NextGen Background

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

Since then, the FAA has developed and deployed most of the advanced NextGen infrastructure, enabling technologies, and capabilities in communications, navigation, surveillance, automation, and information management. These changes and other improvements, along with increased equipage and pilot use of deployed capabilities, are yielding measurable benefits and moving us closer to our goal of a new way of managing air traffic called Trajectory Based Operations.


NextGen affects many stakeholders, such as the government, the aviation community, and public. The FAA collaborates with multiple partners to reach success, including the NextGen Advisory Committee, International Civil Aviation Organization, 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 regarded 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 continues to evolve 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.

Go here to read a more detailed account of NextGen’s history.

Major Milestones

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

View a more comprehensive list of NextGen milestones and accomplishments here.

Last updated: Thursday, March 14, 2024