“Tangible” progress cited in NextGen update

The FAA has released its 2011 updated implementation plan for the Next Generation air transportation system.
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in the report (http://www.faa.gov/nextgen/) that during the past year, the aviation community has begun to see NextGen in action, and begun to understand how its implementation will enhance safety, access, efficiency, and environmental benefits throughout the National Airspace System.
In the year since the March 2010 update, the FAA reported that deployment of the ground infrastructure to support Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) surveillance is on time and on budget.
“We cleared the way to begin integrating ADS-B into FAA air traffic control facilities nationwide, and to train our workforce,” Babbitt said in his letter opening the report. “We also issued our ADS-B Out rule requiring aircraft operating in most controlled airspace to be equipped to broadcast their position to the ADS-B network by the start of 2020.”
The FAA said it is striving to streamline its internal processes to ensure that the NextGen capabilities emerging from its test and research centres begin producing operator benefits quickly and safely.
The FAA provided a new roadmap by which to measure that progress, estimating that by 2018, NextGen will reduce total delays by about 35 percent – amounting to $23 billion in cumulative benefits to aircraft operators, the traveling public, and the FAA. Aviation fuel consumption could be reduced by about 1.5 billion gallons of aviation fuel during the same period.
The FAA expects to consider recommendations later this year on how to proceed with technology that will bring ADS-B information into the cockpit.
Data communications technology is also moving ahead, with investment decisions due this fall and initial capabilities for tower-controller-to-flight-crew communications projected for 2015.