ATM Modernization

New Look to the OEP

By Emily Feliz | March 14, 2007
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The FAA and the Joint Planning and Development Office said they are revamping and expanding their plan for implementing the Next Generation Air Transportation System (Next-Gen), as cost estimates for stakeholders are pegged in the billions.

FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said at the RTCA symposium in Washington the cost estimates for Next-Gen range from $15 billion to $22 billion between now and 2025. And, "the cost to stakeholders to equip is expected to be almost as much," she said.

The Operational Evolution Plan will now become the Operational Evolution Partnership (OEP). FAA officials released an early version of the new plan at the symposium. A final version of the new OEP plan will be released in June. “What makes this endeavor so different from the original Operational Evolution Plan is that we’re looking much further out into the future. Instead of limiting ourselves to 10 years, the new OEP takes us all the way out to 2025,” Blakey said. ”And it will encompass all of the FAA’s commitments to the Next Generation system, not just capacity.”

The OEP will also expand its scope beyond the nation’s 35 busiest airports to include the 15 metropolitan areas that will experience substantial growth by 2025. “OEP will be the bridge to Next-Gen,” said Vicki Cox, FAA’s vice president of operational planning. Blakey said the FAA is developing cross-agency plans for implementing an integrated set of air traffic control capabilities, organized into seven “solution sets.” These major areas of FAA’s focus include initiating trajectory-based operations, increase arrivals/departures at high density airports, improve collaborative ATM and reduce weather impacts.

The name change has been expected for a while, but the specifics of the new plan were unveiled this week.

“But we’re not really just changing the name … What we’re doing is changing everything underneath so that the plan going forward has accountability for commitments not to just what is funded but what is planned in the out years in terms of research and development, applied engineering, rulemaking and everything else you need to do to actually implement the next generation system,” former ATO COO Russ Chew told Avionics before leaving office in February. “That includes business continuity planning, what you’re doing with all your aging facilities, what if any consolidations do you believe need to be done in that time and how that is to be actually executed and that’s what the new OEP is going to be,” Chew said.

The JPDO is altering its structure as well, said Charlie Leader, JPDO director. The eight integrated product teams will become nine “working groups. The JPDO will create a regulatory compliance council and will add an aircraft working group. “We have work to do and we’re going to do it regardless of what our name is,” said Carey Fagan, director of the global harmonizing IPT at the JPDO.

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