NextGen Implementation a Huge Challenge for U.S.
While the need for ATC modernization is generally undisputed, DOT Inspector General Calvin Scovel III told attendees of a House Committee on Science and Technology hearing on Thursday that “developing NextGen is one of the biggest challenges facing the FAA. It is a high-risk effort involving billion-dollar investments.” Scovel credited the FAA for “working on what can be done in the near term” for the transition to NextGen, but chided the agency because ATC modernization costs still “remain uncertain…and much work remains to establish requirements, determine steps to deliver NextGen capabilities and develop realistic transition plans.” The DOT watchdog said the FAA needs to establish priorities; focus attention on technology-transfer issues; work to relieve already congested airports; and examine what can reasonably be implemented in given time increments. “We should have no illusions about the magnitude of the task–NextGen is a systems engineering, management and regulatory challenge as complex as any the nation has ever faced–and success is not guaranteed,” concluded Committee chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.). “The next President needs to make the NextGen initiative a national priority and ensure that it is given the resources, management attention and sense of urgency that it warrants.”