The 1978 Airline Deregulation Act created a highly competitive airline industry which increased the FAA workload exponentially. Flight options increased, leading to lower airfares, more passengers, and higher expectations from customers. By the late 1990s, the National Airspace System (NAS) was under stress due to mounting congestion. Increasing stress on the NAS led many to realize that the country needed a long-term modernization plan. The path to modernizing the NAS is marked by the milestone documents which have produced the changes transforming the NAS from a timeworn complex of outdated technologies and processes to a system of systems that serves the current needs of aviation and meets the demands of future generations of air travelers.
In 2002, the Commission on the future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry recommended a multi-agency task force to develop an integrated plan to transform the U.S air transportation system. The following year, congress passed the Vision 100 – Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act establishing the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) and creating a vision of what the U.S. transportation system should deliver for the next generation and beyond. The JPDO, in 2004, called for change and defined high-level goals and requirements to transform the NAS in their Next Generation Air Transportation System Integrated Plan.
Over the next few years, the FAA fine-tuned the vision, clarified operational concepts, and validated strategies that would modernize the NAS. Then, in 2007 the JPDO updated the original Concept of Operations for the Next Generation Air Transportation System, aligning the system with affordability and technical maturity, and identifying key research and policy issues that needed to be resolved to achieve national goals for air transportation.
By 2011, the FAA published the Next Generation Mid-Term Concept of Operations for the NAS, a stepping stone from the legacy National Airspace System to the NAS envisioned by the JPDO. The document updated implementation and program deployments but remained consistent with JPDO's broad set of objectives.
In the ensuing years, the FAA has created documents that define revisions necessary for the modernization of the NAS. The Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into the NAS was introduced in 2013. In 2016, the FAA described how we would provide predictability and repeatability for the safety and efficiency of the modern NAS in the Performance Based Navigation Strategy. The FAA published Trajectory Based Operations in 2017, describing how we will enhance strategic planning of aircraft flow to reduce capacity-to-demand imbalances and provide tools to aircraft management personnel to expedite aircraft movement. The UAS Traffic Management Concept of Operations was introduced in 2018 to manage Unmanned Aircraft Systems traffic flow.
Aviation has become central to the way we live and do business. NextGen is developing a modern, efficient, and flexible aerospace system that fully responds to the changing needs of businesses and customers in the 21st century.
Read more about how we got here in the NextGen Report.