The FAA and industry are working to ensure that the National Airspace System is interconnected worldwide.
The NextGen International Office collaborates with key foreign states to leverage air traffic management knowledge.
The FAA uses international agreements to engage partners to support the adoption of U.S. standards as globally accepted standards.
Engaging with the international aviation community through partnerships and regulatory harmonization is the foundation of the FAA's Global Leadership Initiative, a priority established by Administrator Michael Huerta. The NextGen International Office, a division within the Interagency Planning Office (IPO), focuses on coordinating and sharing information with global partners. Its ultimate goal is to support seamless interoperability and harmonization and to provide a mechanism to make air traffic management (ATM) systems safer and more efficient for air navigation service providers and airspace users.
To ensure it retains its role as the world leader in aviation, the FAA, in partnership with industry, is working to ensure the National Airspace System is interconnected worldwide through data exchange standards, as well as other globally uniform operational and technical standards, procedures, avionics capabilities, agreed-upon timelines, and implementation methodologies, including the personnel skills, training, and expertise needed to harmonize implementation. This will enable airspace users to realize the maximum NextGen benefits.
Donald Ward (second from right), manager of the NextGen International Office, speaks during a 2016 panel at the NATCA Communicating for Safety Conference in Las Vegas, NV.
To foster global harmonization, the FAA and its international counterparts are working through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop a globally connected, seamless ATM system. ICAO, the aviation technical body of the United Nations, provides a forum for 191 member states to adopt and implement international aviation standards. Most of the work conducted in ICAO is by way of expert panels. The NextGen Office provides subject matter experts to all panels considered to be necessary for NextGen harmonization. Critical panel support in 2016 included the Air Traffic Management Requirements and Performance Panel, Aeronautical Communications Panel, Information Management Panel, Meteorology Panel, Surveillance Panel, and the Remotely Piloted Aviation System Panel (RPAS). Furthermore, NextGen staff members are leading the revision of the global ATM roadmap as described by the latest ICAO Global Air Navigation Plan, which defines the direction of world aviation systems for the next 20 years.
In addition to ICAO, the NextGen International Office works on a bilateral basis with key foreign states to collaborate on relevant ATM modernization issues. The FAA has international agreements with the European Union, Japan, and Singapore for joint research and development of future air traffic systems. The NextGen International Office also participates with the U.S. Trade Development Agency and Department of Commerce on their agreements with China, Brazil, and Indonesia. Through these agreements, the FAA engages partners to help ensure U.S. standards are accepted as global standards.
The FAA has agreements with EUROCONTROL and the European Commission (EC) to collaborate on air traffic development and operational procedures. The objective is to harmonize NextGen with its European modernization counterpart, Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR), which is managed by the SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU), an EC body. The NextGen Office helps to manage and support the work activities defined under the agreements with EUROCONTROL and the EC. In 2016, the NextGen Office provided subject matter experts for topics including communications, navigation, trajectory management, airborne interoperability, cybersecurity, RPAS, and information management. In December 2016, the FAA and SJU jointly published the NextGen-SESAR State of Harmonization report, documenting the shared progress of the past two years.
Teri L. Bristol, chief operating officer of the FAA Air Traffic Organization, speaks during a global interoperability panel at the SESAR Theatre in Madrid, Spain, during the World ATM Congress 2017. (Photo courtesy of SESAR Joint Undertaking)
Japan is a longstanding, important partner for the FAA based on the shared oceanic airspace border and their ATM modernization initiative, Collaborative Actions for Renovation of Air Traffic Systems. The FAA has maintained an agreement with Japan since 2016 and meets twice per year through the Future Air Transportation System Working Group (FATS WG), a technical group chaired by the head of the NextGen International Office. Through the FATS WG forum, the United States and Japan collaborate, exchange ideas, and share lessons learned to harmonize mutual modernization efforts. In 2016, the FATS WG shared large amounts of information and coordinated on a variety of subjects, including System Wide Information Management (SWIM), Wake Recategorization, Performance Based Navigation, RPAS, and Data Communications. NextGen's International Office identified and tracked action items from the 2016 FATS WG meeting and supported a Japan Air Navigation Service delegation visit to the FAA headquarters in Washington, DC, and William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, NJ.
Singapore is a recent bilateral partner of the FAA and NextGen International Office. The FAA signed an agreement with Singapore in late 2013 to collaborate with the Singapore ATM Centre of Excellence. Although Singapore has a relatively small amount of airspace, they are very advanced in ATM development and influence the Southeast Asia region. By working with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), the NextGen International Office can guide the direction of 10 countries comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The NextGen International Office served as the co-chair for the first FAA-CAAS Program Management Review (PMR) in April 2016. At the PMR, the FAA agreed to work with CAAS on the following topics: Remote Towers, RPAS, Weather Integration into Decision Support Systems, and SWIM. Furthermore, the NextGen Office and CAAS started an initiative for a multi-country demonstration of SWIM information exchange between ASEAN members.