NextGen Background

Mounting congestion in the 1990s and predictions of even greater demand for aviation services motivated the U.S. Congress to call for change. The Vision 100—Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act of 2003 established the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) to create a unified vision of what the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS) should deliver for the next generation and beyond.

Today’s NextGen is delivering benefits and integrating NextGen capabilities across the U.S. National Airspace System that will fully implement innovative capabilities at the right places across the country and move us closer to our vision of transitioning air traffic management to Trajectory Based Operations. The aviation industry expects to increase aircraft equipage and increase pilots’ use of deployed capabilities.

The FAA has developed and tested a new infrastructure that accommodates state-of-the-art enabling technologies and advanced capabilities.

Working Together

The NextGen transformation of the NAS is broad and complex. It affects government and aviation community stakeholders, and the public. The FAA collaborates with many partners to achieve success, including the NextGen Advisory Committee, International Civil Aviation Organization, NextGen Executive Board, other federal agencies, and labor unions.

Research and Development

Concepts, systems, and capabilities must be researched, developed, tested, evaluated, and proven before they can be implemented. The FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, NJ, is the nation’s premier federal aviation laboratory for advancing the NAS and sustaining safe and efficient operations. The FAA established the Florida NextGen Test Bed to generate industry-driven concepts to advance NAS modernization. A third NextGen test facility is located in the NASA/FAA North Texas Research Station.

Continuous Modernization

The NAS is recognized as the global gold standard of air transportation systems. That level of excellence is attained through continuous innovation and ceaselessly striving to make a safe system even safer.

NextGen, one of the most ambitious infrastructure modernization projects in U.S. history, continues to transform the NAS into a modern, efficient, and flexible aerospace system that fully responds to the changing needs of businesses and customers in the 21st century.

Want to learn more? Read a more detailed account of NextGen’s history, from vision to reality.

Major Milestones

The NextGen operational transformation stems from investment, commitment, hard work, and collaboration across the FAA and throughout the aviation community, as well as support from Congress. This timeline includes a sampling of our many NextGen milestones. Click on the arrow in the image below or drag the timeline to the desired year and click on a milestone "flag."

Want to dig deeper? View a more comprehensive list of NextGen milestones and accomplishments.

Last updated: Monday, February 13, 2023