The FAA must take advantage of existing technologies, continue to work with stakeholders, and act quickly to establish the equipment and procedures necessary to modernize the air transportation system, AOPA President Craig Fuller said in submitted testimony to the House aviation subcommittee Oct. 28.
The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s aviation subcommittee heard from representatives of government and industry in a hearing to review the recommendations in a NextGen air transportation system task force report. In his submitted testimony, Fuller emphasized the importance of working together on air traffic control modernization, embracing new technology through a building-block approach, and expanding surveillance services for general aviation.
"In order to work, NextGen will require the implementation of new technology, both in terms of cockpit equipage and infrastructure," Fuller wrote. "General aviation pilots have always been quick to adopt new technology, particularly when the safety and utility of that technology is evident."
GA pilots have adopted GPS navigation systems quickly and voluntarily, he added, and the task force’s recommendations to provide appropriate incentives for equipage will help speed adoption of NextGen technology. Modernization plans should make the most of equipment that already exists in today’s cockpit, and new technology should build on established equipment, policies, and procedures. "We cannot afford to equip aircraft if the proper tools are not in place to realize the benefits of our investments," he wrote.
RTCA, a not-for-profit corporation that develops consensus-based recommendations for the aviation industry, created the Mid-Term Implementation Task Force at the request of the FAA to give recommendations about how to implement improvements between now and 2018. AOPA participated in the task force and worked to ensure that the FAA’s plan includes clear benefits for GA pilots, include increased access to low-altitude airspace and small airports. In his comments, Fuller lauded the FAA’s cooperative approach and the task force’s recommendations for improving the safety, capacity, and efficiency of the National Airspace System.