ATM Modernization, Commercial

Equipage, Timing Key to NextGen Implementation

By Emily Feliz | September 27, 2010
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Some 300 aviation industry stakeholders gathered to consider ongoing challenges in the NextGen transition during the RTCA Fall Symposium, co-organized by Avionics Magazine, Sept. 22 in Washington, D.C.

Recently confirmed FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Huerta opened the symposium with an emphasis on continuing the momentum generated by the RTCA NextGen Mid-Term Implementation Task Force (Task Force 5), which issued recommendations last September.

"For those of us who've been around this block before, there's nothing worse than taking the good work of something like Task Force 5 and then letting it die on the vine," Huerta said. "With NextGen and its cross-agency implications, we felt that we wanted advice from a broader community."

The work of the Task Force will be continued under the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC), which includes representatives from FAA, the Department of Defense, airlines, avionics manufacturers and other stakeholders. The committee will focus primarily on implementation issues, including national priorities, joint investment, location and timing of implementation, with an emphasis on near- and mid- term deliverables through 2018.

"By bringing in senior officers of major stakeholders, we hope to generate a dialog that will result in common goals that both industry and government can pursue with buy-in at the highest levels of government and industry," Huerta said. "It will make sure we don't lose sight of Task Force 5 or any of the milestones that need to be kept front and center."

Panel and audience members cited progress with specific pieces of NextGen, including Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). However, speakers noted that industry is waiting to see tangible, operational results in order to make the business case to invest in equipage.

"Getting the infrastructure in place before the equipage is incredible," said Kathleen O'Brien, Boeing associate technical fellow, air traffic management. "That's the biggest piece that's going to lead to equipage. … The key is everyone seeing that they can get benefits."

Other panel topics at the symposium included data communications, global harmonization and integration of unmanned aerial systems in civil airspace. See Avionics Magazine's November issue for more coverage.

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