As the FAA continues to work toward NextGen implementation, AOPA is reminding the agency and industry leaders that the cost burden to equip general aviation aircraft with new technology must be taken into consideration.
AOPA President Craig Fuller and other association staff met with leaders from various GA associations last week at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center near Atlantic City, N.J., to learn more about the research and development and technical aspects of NextGen, including Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). ADS-B technology would allow aircraft equipped with GPS receivers to transmit their location and altitude to other nearby aircraft and to air traffic control. Researchers at the center have focused on ADS-B, data communication, NextGen network enabled weather, unmanned aerial systems integration, and NextGen integration and evaluation capabilities.
In addition to the ongoing development of NextGen at the research center, the FAA has released its aviation safety plan, which is aimed at providing guidance to the FAA’s airmen and aircraft certification field offices. Part of that plan rests on aircraft equipping with ADS-B.
“ADS-B is a critical component of NextGen, but it must be affordable for all users of the National Airspace System,” said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. During a recent conference on NextGen hosted by Aviation Week, Rudinger emphasized the importance of demonstrating the benefits of ADS-B to the GA community and making the equipment affordable to buy and install in GA aircraft.
Currently, more than 80 percent of the GA fleet has GPS, and 20 percent is equipped to use Wide Area Augmentation System instrument approaches, meaning that much of GA is well into the transition to NextGen. Although AOPA has long advocated for this overhaul of the air traffic control system—switching from ground-based to satellite-based navigation—the association maintains that any mandate to equip for NextGen be made affordable to pilots.