The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has made progress in delivering some of the operational improvements that are envisioned by the NextGen ATC modernization effort. But to demonstrate those improvements sooner, the agency has also made “trade-offs” that could limit their overall benefit to airlines in the coming years, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Next Generation Air Transportation System
In an effort to deliver operational improvements more quickly, the FAA has made “trade-offs” in establishing performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures that could limit their benefits in the near term, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released its Top Management Challenges for Fiscal Year 2013, which began October 1, last week.
“Improving air and surface safety continues to be the Department’s overarching priority,” says its latest report. The department says the challenges include “maximizing existing data to identify trends and root causes of safety issues, enhancing risk-based oversight at carriers and repair stations, and mitigating air traffic controller fatigue.”
NextGen is such a vast project, with so many interdependencies–where even if System A is complete and ready to go, it needs Systems B and C before it can be placed into service, and they now won’t be ready for another year or two–that predicting completion dates is a risky business. And predicting the final costs of uncompleted items could be even chancier.
The FAA announced a collaborative public-private NextGen effort at Florida’s major airports late last week that will increase safety and efficiency while reducing aircraft emissions. Dubbed NextGen metroplex, the initiative will improve the flow of air traffic into and out of airports in the Miami, Orlando and Tampa metropolitan areas. Similar metroplex projects are under way or planned in numerous metropolitan areas across the U.S., the FAA added.
Harris has won a three-way contest to provide the FAA’s next generation ATC data communications network between pilots and controllers, beating competing bids by ITT Exelis and Lockheed Martin.
The FAA has awarded the contract to build a nationwide data communications network for ground-to-air ATC text messaging to Harris Corporation, of Melbourne, Fla.
Cargo carrier FedEx Express will become the first U.S. airline to begin operational trials of data communications between pilots and air traffic controllers in continental airspace under the FAA’s Data Comm program, a key component of the Next Generation Air Transportation System. The carrier expects to start operations using data communications on November 12 at its Memphis International Airport hub.
Last week Airbus issued the latest installment of its future vision for aviation in 2050 and beyond, describing new ways of operating across all phases of flight. The company’s “Smarter Skies” vision centers on a “sustainable” aviation system that saves time, conserves fuel and reduces emissions. For the first time, the vision looks beyond smarter aircraft design to the efficiencies potentially derived from airspace optimization, or making the best use of the environment in which an aircraft operates, Airbus said.
The ADS-B system that is the cornerstone of the FAA’s NextGen ATC modernization plan is at risk of serious security breaches, according to Brad Haines (aka RenderMan), a hacker and network security consultant who is worried about ADS-B vulnerabilities.