AOPA President Craig Fuller joined other key aviation decision makers at FAA headquarters Sept. 23 to help shape the industry’s vision of NextGen.
NextGen, or the Next Generation air transportation system, encompasses the modernization of the system and the transition from ground- to satellite-based navigation and surveillance. The NextGen Advisory Committee was created this year to bring together top-level officials representing a range of aviation interests to reach a consensus on priorities for the process, particularly from now through 2018. The group looked at the business of NextGen so that it can provide a set of joint recommendations to the FAA on issues critical to its implementation.
“NextGen has enormous implications for all aspects of aviation, so it's vital for the FAA to hear directly from those of us who will use the system for decades to come,” Fuller said. “AOPA is pleased to be part of this advisory committee, and we will ensure that the group's recommendations are informed by the needs and realities of general aviation flying.”
FAA deputy administrator Michael Huerta welcomed participants to the meeting and tasked them with looking at “the business of NextGen.” Many of the technologies that will form the basis of the modernized system are already available; the challenge now is to implement them throughout the National Airspace System.
“[T]he science, while always evolving, is already here,” said committee chairman David Barger, the president and CEO of JetBlue Airways. He stressed the importance of collaboration in the implementation of NextGen.
For pilots, the most visible components of NextGen are in the cockpit—hardware like GPS units and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). But modernization requires an overhaul of the entire system that will have wide-ranging effects. The advisory committee comprises representatives from many stakeholders, including air traffic management, aircraft and avionics manufacturers, airports, defense and security, environmental groups, finance, labor, and operators such as general aviation.
The group is convened under the auspices of RTCA, a not-for-profit organization that develops consensus-based recommendations regarding communications, navigation, surveillance, and air traffic management system issues. It is designed to provide a platform for government-industry collaboration; the FAA will use recommendations from the committee to inform its planning and execution of NextGen. The Sept. 23 meeting laid the groundwork for collaboration that will include subcommittees working on specific issues.