24 ATW | June 2018 | atwonline.com
honesty without either being over optimistic or over crit-
ical,” he said. “I think the important thing is that [tech-
nology] is being deployed. It’s inherent in our industry
that that will never happen as quickly as it should or as
quickly as people would like.”
Europeans point out that the SES vision is uniquely
challenged in bringing together the aviation authorities
of 28 EU member states. Americans counter that FAA,
while the sole ANSP of the US, manages the world’s
most crowded and complex airspace system. In 2016,
FAA’s Air Trafc Organization handled 15. 6 million instrument fight rule fights, equating to 42,700 average
Activity at 60 large and medium hub airports increased by 0.4% last year, “and delays remained at historically high levels at many US airports,” FAA states in
the 2018 edition of its annual aerospace forecast.
In February 2017, the industry-government NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC) that advises the FAA
reached consensus to focus ATM improvements in the
Northeast corridor, covering the airports and associated
airspace of New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Delays there represent
nearly half of all delays in the national airspace system,
according to the FAA.
NAC industry participants have proposed priority
operational needs for implementation between 2019-
2021. Tese include de-conficting arrivals at New York
LaGuardia (LGA) and Newark Liberty International airports; de-conficting satellite airport and major airport
operations; utilizing full capacity at LGA through use
of metering and sequencing tools; improving runway
usage at New York John F. Kennedy and Philadelphia
International airports through alternative confgurations
and procedures; providing reduced separation and spacing region-wide; and leveraging “big data” and advanced
analytics to improve trafc fow management.
In a report published after its latest meeting in March,
the NAC said it expects the FAA to respond with commitments in June. “Te proposed set of initiatives must
be considered in relation to existing commitments, and
other factors such as operational feasibility, compatibility with FAA acquisition eforts, resource planning
(including stafng and procedure development requirements), and community involvement,” the report states.
Progress was reported on Data Comm, the FAA and
industry deployment of text-based messaging between
controllers and pilots, which is considered a NextGen
foundational program. FAA completed installing the ca-
pability at 55 airport towers in 2016, two years ahead of
schedule; it is now in service at 56 airports, with seven
Te number of Data Comm operations executed
passed 2 million in January, with participation by 11
mainline US carriers, 43 international carriers and 40
business jet operators. Initial operating capability at the
frst of 20 air route trafc control centers that manage
high-altitude trafc is planned for the third quarter of
Carriers are only gradually equipping for automatic
dependent surveillance-broadcast Out position reporting, which FAA will require for all aircraft by January
2020. As of March 1, the agency estimated that 29.4%
to 35.2% of the US airline feet was equipped with compliant avionics; 23.5% to 37.6% of the general aviation
feet; and 10.26% of military and special-use government aircraft.
FAA’s Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in the
Metroplex initiative to redesign airspace and introduce
performance-based navigation procedures in major metropolitan areas has been slowed by public headwinds.
Te agency’s Phoenix Metroplex project remained
“paused” after the US Court of Appeals for the D.C.
Circuit in August found FAA had been “arbitrary and
capricious” when it changed fight routes serving Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Te D.C. Circuit in March dismissed a petition by
Washington, D.C., neighborhood groups aggrieved by
FAA fight-path changes at Ronald Reagan Washington
National Airport, fnding they were late in fling.
Reporting to Congress last August, the US Government Accountability Ofce (GAO) said FAA’s 2016 estimation of the costs of rolling out NextGen through
2030—$20.6 billion for government; $15.1 billion for
industry—remained within range of estimates made in
“According to FAA ofcials we interviewed, the development and implementation of NextGen is an iterative
and evolutionary process. However, some stakeholders
told us that FAA had originally described NextGen as a
transformative initiative,” the GAO remarked.
Te watchdog agency cited a 2015 National Academy of Sciences study that found “NextGen means different things to diferent people. [T]he study committee
concluded that NextGen today is primarily an incremental modernization efort.”