NextGen report calls for better access, services for GA

September 11, 2009

The FAA should implement more precision-based approaches and departures and expand surveillance services to best take advantage of existing capabilities in the air traffic control system, a NextGen air transportation system task force report recommended Sept. 9.

AOPA participated in the government-industry task force charged with recommending near- and mid-term improvements to the air traffic control system and worked to ensure that continued access to airspace was one of the key recommendations in the final report submitted to the FAA.

“AOPA is energized by the commitment of the user community and the FAA to NextGen,” said AOPA Senior Director of Airspace and Modernization Heidi Williams, “and as a result of AOPA’s involvement in those discussions, GA users will be able to experience better access to existing technologies and services.”

NextGen modernization plans call for transitioning from ground-based to satellite-based navigation and surveillance in order to increase safety, efficiency, and capacity in the airspace system. RTCA, a not-for-profit corporation that develops consensus-based recommendations for the aviation industry, created the task force at the request of the FAA to give recommendations about how to implement improvements between now and 2018. Its main recommendations were to improve surface traffic management; increase runway access; relieve congestion and tarmac delays at major metropolitan airports and surrounding airspace; improve efficiency of cruise operations by increasing the ability to disseminate real-time airspace status and schedules; and improving access to airports and services.

AOPA has worked to ensure that NextGen modernization will include incentives for GA equipage and will result in real benefits for GA users. By implementing more precision-based approaches and departures and expanding surveillance services to areas not currently under radar surveillance, the FAA can ensure that pilots benefit from WAAS and ADS-B equipage.

AOPA staff also attended a series of meetings recently with a number of the FAA’s NextGen and ADS-B team to discuss ways AOPA and the FAA can continue working in partnership on NextGen initiatives following the RTCA final report. FAA staff included Vincent Capezzuto, director of surveillance and broadcast services, Victoria Cox, senior vice president of NextGen and operations planning, and Dr. Mike Romanowski, director of operational evolutionary partnership integration and implementation.