US aerospace chiefs set out spin-off principles

US industry chiefs have laid out a set of principles to guide President Trump’s mission to corporatise the nation’s air traffic control in a bid to ensure long-term stability of ATC operations and the future of NextGen technologies.
The Aerospace Industries Association said it welcomed the inclusion of critical aviation infrastructure as a part of President Trump’s plan for infrastructure improvement and its commitment to sustained investment.
“The good news is that we as a nation have already started investing in the next generation of requirements for our aviation infrastructure,” said AIA president and CEO David Melcher. “Aptly named, the Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen initiative promotes a series of investments into the interoperability of aircraft avionics, airports, air traffic control facilities, navigation aids, both land and space-based communication networks and surveillance systems to ensure a safe, efficient air transportation system for users, the flying and shipping public, and all other beneficiaries of air commerce.”
Melcher said the industry had worked closely with the FAA to implement high-priority NextGen capabilities, citing near-term benefits in four areas: Multiple Runway Operations, Performance Based Navigation, Surface Operations and Data Communications.
“Overall, the FAA expects NextGen to deliver $160.6 billion in benefits through 2030,” he said. “Together, we are creating a healthy and sustainable National Airspace System that solves the problems of traffic and congestion in our busy airspace while saving fuel, reducing carbon emissions and increasing on-time arrivals and departures.”
“We look forward to the release of further details and to working with Congress and the Administration on FAA Reauthorization to ensure that our air traffic control system remains the gold standard for safety and reliability and to enhance the certification process to allow products and innovations to come to market in a timely fashion.”
Melcher added that AIA believes that the FAA reauthorisation should achieve the following basic objectives:

  • Provide a budgeting and funding process that gives long-term visibility, stability and predictability to ATC operations, capital funding, and the development and application of NextGen technologies.
  • Ensure the FAA’s ability to maintain its critical aircraft certification and safety oversight missions as well as to enhance its certification process.
  • Enable safe and timely integration of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System.

Should the reauthorization include ATC reform, the following additional objectives should be achieved:

  • An effective governance structure and capital decision-making process that includes participation of key stakeholders, including equipment manufacturers and firms with air traffic management development and manufacturing expertise in NextGen technologies and systems.
  • A streamlined acquisition process that reduces the time from concept to implementation so that technology does not become obsolete before it is implemented.
  • Ensure that ATC reform does not result in:
    • User fees, increased costs, schedule risks, or other performance issues for the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service or any associated support activities;
    • Business aviation and general aviation user fees for airspace access or cost increases since they would disproportionately impact those aviation sectors; or
    • Reduced access or service to rural and underserved areas.
  • Ensure that the ATC reform does not adversely affect US international harmonisation activities in either aviation safety or ATC modernisation.