DOT Prioritizes Airspace and Air Traffic Management
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) lists two aviation issues as top priorities for 2014 in the latest audit released last week by the office of its inspector general (IG). The DOT will focus on improving the FAA’s industry oversight and operations within the national airspace system (NAS), while also identifying and addressing what it views as root problems in the decade-old NextGen program. The IG wants to identify the causes of cost increases and schedule delays with NextGen as it implements new performance-based navigation routes to gain user support for the system. The audit concludes that there is also a need for a master program schedule for NextGen projects that would limit the risks of implementing new automation systems to controllers. The DOT wants to advance specific initiatives to improve pilot training, mentoring and record keeping, while also looking more closely at air traffic controller training, scheduling and performance issues. The IG says the FAA needs to implement a risk-based approach to repair station oversight efforts, enhance runway safety and improve data collection and analysis to identify losses of ATC separation. Finally, the DOT wants the FAA to develop a plan to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the national airspace system.