|Rockwell Collins CEO Clay Jones|
Rockwell Collins President and CEO Clay Jones on Tuesday called on the aviation industry to step up its creation of public-private partnerships in order to accelerate the implementation of FAA's multi-billion-dollar NextGen airspace modernization initiative.
In his keynote address at the RTCA Symposium in Washington, D.C., Jones said the industry must think differently in order to achieve the “monumental goal” of modernizing the airspace by 2020. "We know if we don’t reach our goal the result will be overcrowded skies, airports that will face recurrent delays," he said.
Jones outlined the bright spots in NextGen implementation, namely the passage of the FAA reauthorization bill earlier this year, which provide stability for many NextGen programs to advance and sets the framework for the integration of civilian unmanned aircraft systems into the National Airspace System. However, the not-so-bright spots in NextGen implementation include the uncertainty surrounding the U.S. economic recovery, the presidential elections, unemployment, and the federal deficit.
"In the reauthorization legislation, Congress did give us some control and authority to think differently, calling on public-private partnerships aimed at accelerating NextGen," Jones said. "This approach asks the government to do what is does not normally do, but, folks, these are not normal times, and we need different solutions. Congress is actually encouraging this type of thinking. And it is largely within our control to do something about it."
He used the U.S. ground infrastructure as an example, where highways, bridges and tunnels – owned or operated by private industry – have increasingly been used as alternatives to the long-standing tradition of government ownership. He also cited an array of public/private partnership agreements that have helped eliminate maintenance expenses, mobilize new highway-building funds without raising taxes and meet transportation modernization needs more efficiently.