[Avionics Today 8-07-2014] The FAA will release a roadmap outlining the official timeline of the implementation of its NextGen modernization project by Oct. 18, according to the agency's Assistant Administrator for NextGen, Ed Bolton. During a speech at the Air Line Pilots Association's (ALPA) 60th Air Safety Forum (ASF) the former U.S. Air Force general said the FAA is committed to finalizing a new plan and sticking with it through 2025.
FAA Assistant Administrator for NextGen Edward Bolton speaks during ALPA's ASF conference. Photo: ALPA
“My commitment to you is that by the 18th of October you’ll have a plan with my signature on it that has milestones, timelines, metrics [and] costs by location, to deliver capability in the one-to-three year time frame in these areas,” Bolton told the crowd of pilots and other members of the aviation industry attending the ASF.
The Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics' (RTCA) NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC) is on track to finalize its near-term priorities for NextGen in September as well. At RTCA 2014, NAC Chairman and retired Alaska Airlines CEO Bill Ayer said the group had outlined the following four aspects as priorities for near term implementation: Performance Based Navigation (PBN), surface operations, multiple runway operations, and the Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) aspect of the DataComm program.
Continued implementation of PBN remains one of the top priorities for airspace users as well, because it allows them to perform modern flight procedures known as Required Navigation Performance (RNP) and Area Navigation (RNAV) and standard instrument departures among others. RNAV enables an aircraft to fly its desired flight path within the coverage of ground or space-based navigation aids within the limits of the capability of the self-contained avionics systems. RNPS is RNAV with the addition of onboard avionics systems' performance monitoring and alerting capabilities.
These procedures allow aircraft to a shorter distance, reducing fuel burn and carbon emissions. Currently, the FAA has published 7,000 PBN procedures throughout the National Airspace System (NAS), according to a statement from the FAA. But data from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the FAA in 2013 shows that despite implementing these procedures at some of the nation's busiest airports, usage is still low. For example, out of the 29,907 flights that approached New York's JFK Airport between September 2012 and August 2013, only 307 used PBN procedures to land. In order to get more airports to use PBN, the OIG is recommending that the FAA remove barriers, expedite its implementation, and complete and action plan with deadlines along with more measurement of its progress.
The NAC will vote on a final NextGen implementation plan at its next scheduled meeting in October.