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NextGen Continues Rolling Out

Atlanta, GA, October 21, 2010

During a session at the NBAA 63rd Annual Meeting & Convention, five Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials detailed the agency's ongoing introduction of various components of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).

Paul Fontaine, FAA's manger of advanced technology development and prototyping, started by explaining that NextGen is important because it is starting to yield efficiencies that will not only streamline and expedite air travel, but also will save fuel and reduce environmental impacts.

In fiscal year 2010, the FAA budgeted $868 million for NextGen projects, and the agency has requested another $1.1 billion for fiscal year 2011 to continue the roll out of more advanced capabilities.

Implementation of Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B), a crucial component of NextGen, is resulting in practical operating efficiencies. For example, because ADS-B provides more coverage than radar off the U.S. East Coast, certain north–south offshore routes can be utilized more often. In addition, use of ADS-B has enabled aircraft flying along North Atlantic tracks to achieve lower burns.

Joe McCarthy, acting manager of the FAA's PBN Integration Group, said his organization has developed hundreds of new procedures, all of which are enhancing the safety and efficiency of the aircraft operators who use them.

Leslie Smith, manager of the FAA's Flight Technologies and Procedures Division, noted that some flight departments operating Gulfstreams and Boeings have earned Required Navigational Performance – Special Aircraft and Aircrew Authorization, which enables them to take advantage of NextGen capabilities.

Future NextGen capabilities include Data Comm, which the FAA's William Boyer calls "text messaging on steroids." Under the new system, air traffic controllers typically will type text messages, which pilots will read and acknowledge. Two-way digital communications between controllers and pilots, which can either involve "canned" messages and/or "on the fly" messages, are expected to be used first for tower departure clearances beginning in 2014.

Use of Data Comm is expected to eliminate read-back/hear-back errors, reduce the number of pilot deviations, shorten flight times and distances, and enable optimized profile descents. Radio frequency congestion will be reduced, and pilots will be able to get off the ground quicker and eventually auto-load clearances into their flight management systems.