FAA to be grilled on NextGen consolidation plan

A Congressional hearing tomorrow will examine the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) need and efforts to consolidate air traffic control facilities to provide long-term cost savings and help US aviation transition to the NextGen air traffic control system.

The Aviation Subcommittee will hear testimony from the FAA, the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (OIG), and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association regarding the need for action given the age and deteriorating condition of FAA facilities, the state of the federal budget, the need for cost savings, expected facility and infrastructure needs with the implementation of NextGen, and consolidation and realignment planning requirements included in the recently enacted FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Reform Act).

The FAA is responsible for maintaining or replacing 402 air traffic control facilities in the United States. According to the OIG, the average facility has an expected useful life of approximately 25 to 30 years. As of 2012, the average age of an en-route centre, which generally handles high altitude en route air traffic moving across the United States, is 49 years. The average age of a TRACON, which typically handles traffic within 40 miles of an airport, is 28 years. According to the FAA, the estimated cost to replace 402 terminal facilities is $10.6 billion, while the estimated annual cost to sustain 402 terminal facilities is $99.3 million.

“Despite its understanding of the need to make decisions on facility requirements and to move ahead with realignments and consolidations, the FAA has previously met parochial political resistance from Congress, and at times, its own workforce,” states the sub committee. “If the FAA is to successfully implement NextGen and achieve the expected cost savings, cost avoidances, and safety improvements, it must work with Congress, labour, industry and other stakeholders to develop clear facility requirements and sound business cases; comply with the mandates of the recently enacted Reform Act; and move ahead with needed realignments, consolidations, and/or maintenance plans in an expedited fashion.”

WHAT: Hearing of the Subcommittee on Aviation, U.S. Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI), Chairman: “A Review of FAA’s Efforts to Reduce Costs and Ensure Safety and Efficiency through Realignment and Facility Consolidation”

WHEN: 10:00am (Washington DC local time), Thursday, May 31, 2012

WHERE: 2167 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515
Live webcast will be available at http://transportation.house.gov/


David Grizzle, Chief Operating Officer, Air Traffic Organization, Federal Aviation Administration
Lou E. Dixon, Principal Assistant Inspector General for Auditing and Evaluation, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation
Paul Rinaldi, President, National Air Traffic Controllers Association

Posted in CAAs/ANSPs, News, NextGen

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