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FAA and Industry Release NextGen Plan

FAA and Industry Release NextGen PlanWASHINGTONOct 8- Federal Aviation Administration Deputy Administrator Mike Whitaker today announced that the agency and the aviation community have agreed on a plan that accelerates the delivery of key NextGen initiatives to the flying public over the next three years. The agreement was reached at a meeting today between the FAA and the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC), an organization composed of airlines, manufacturers and labor groups and represents the culmination of several months of intensive and unprecedented collaboration. The benefits from these initiatives will enable even more aircraft in markets throughout the country to fly more directly, improving safety and efficiency while saving time and reducing fuel burn, carbon emissions and noise.

The NextGen Priorities Joint Implementation Plan will be finalized by the FAA in collaboration with aviation industry representatives, and delivered to Congress on October 17.  The agency and industry share responsibility to meet specific milestones, locations, timelines, and metrics for “high priority, high readiness” NextGen initiatives outlined in the plan. These initiatives include Multiple Runway Operations, Performance Based Navigation, Surface and Data Communications.  

"One of my first actions as Deputy Administrator was asking our industry stakeholders for a prioritized list of NextGen capabilities," said Whitaker.  "Today's agreement lays out a clear path for the delivery of four of those capabilities and, more importantly, reflects what can be accomplished when industry and FAA work together.  The priorities outlined in this plan will deliver real benefits to the traveling public in the near-term: reducing flight delays, enhancing safety and increasing predictability."

According to the plan, the FAA will institute new NextGen procedures through the use of Multiple Runway Operations at 36 airports nationwide to increase airport efficiency and reduce flight delays.  The agency will also deploy satellite-based navigation procedures known as Performance Based Navigation (PBN) at three key metropolitan areas—Northern California, Atlanta and Charlotte—to provide more direct flight paths, improved airport arrival rates, enhanced controller productivity, increased safety due to repeatable and predictable flight paths, fuel savings and a reduction in aviation’s environmental impact.   

The plan also calls for the FAA to increase Surface Operations data sharing in order to increase predictability and provide actionable and measurable surface efficiency improvements at our nation’s airports.  Finally, the FAA will prioritize its work on Data Communications services, which upgrades communication between pilots, air traffic controllers and airline operations centers from voice to digital, providing enhanced safety and efficiency of the airspace system, especially under bad weather conditions.

Importantly, industry stakeholders are responsible for ensuring pilot awareness of new runway and airspace procedures, equipping aircraft with Data Comm technology, collaborating with the FAA on performance based navigation airspace redesign, and data sharing.

In July 2013, as part of the FAA’s work prioritizing investments, the agency tasked the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC) to review its current modernization plans and identify the NextGen capabilities that would provide the highest value to stakeholders. Later, the House Aviation Subcommittee asked that the FAA and the NAC report define milestones, locations, timelines, costs and metrics for this work, in a report to Congress.

In addition, the FAA today released a study on NextGen which validated that the FAA has made substantial progress to date.  The independent study was conducted by MITRE Corporation, the non-profit research and development center based in McLean, Va. At the request of the agency, MITRE’s Center for Advanced Aviation System Development took stock of where NextGen is today and recommended ways to refine plans and expectations for the future. 

While the FAA has put great effort into engaging the aviation community since the beginning of NextGen, the MITRE report released today validates the importance of the kind of enhanced collaboration demonstrated through today’s prioritization plan. As noted by MITRE, the success of NextGen—the full delivery of benefits—depends on an increased focus on operational transition and integration of capabilities.

MITRE’s assessment arrives at a critical time and will inform the agency’s ongoing deliberations about tradeoffs and prioritization.  In addition, the agency plans to address areas that the report highlighted where improved training, national policies, or clearer governance could improve the realization of NextGen benefits. 

> MITRE Report

>FAA Statement on MITRE's Independent Assessment and Recommendations for NextGen

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