NextGen “producing benefits”

Tangible benefits are already evident with elements of NextGen, panelists told attendees at ATW’s 5th Annual Eco-Aviation Conference in Washington DC June 21.

“We’re already seeing benefits,” FAA assistant administrator for policy, international affairs and environment Julie Oettinger said.

She noted that Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is producing significant benefits in certain areas, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico. JetBlue Airways has become the first US airline to use satellite-based Required Navigation Performance Authorization Required (RNP AR) approaches to runways 13L and 13R at New York JFK using Airbus A320s (ATW Daily News, June 20).

“NextGen is a full transformation,” Aerospace Industries Assn. VP-civil aviation Dan Elwell said. “It’s an inflection point in our airspace unlike anything since radar … it will fundamentally change how we do air transport.”

Though some airlines have begun the process of equipage for NextGen, Oettinger said incentives may be necessary to promote equipage even further. “Are we moving toward a level of investment in equipage that we need without incentives? I think at this point the answer is no … there’s been a lot of work around what sort of incentives would be appropriate—both operational as well as financial,” she said.

Further equipage will soon become critical, Oettinger said. “I don’t think we have a choice indefinitely of relying on old technology… we don’t have the option to go back and continue to operate the 1940s’ radar system. We have gone too far, it’s no longer a choice.”

Elwell added, “I truly believe in terms of NextGen implementation, if you build it they will come.”
ATW, July 19, 2012