While much hand-wringing surrounds the FAA's plans for implementation of the NextGen air transportation system and Europe's single European sky system, some of the airborne equipment required is already on its way into cockpits. The first certified ADS-B in equipment for an in-production aircraft is ACSS's T3cas traffic management computer, according to ACSS (Aviation Communications and Surveillance Systems).
Next Generation Air Transportation System
When Congress in 2003 signed off on the Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act–better known as Vision 100–it officially set in motion the Next Generation Air Transportation System (Ngats) plan, which by 2025 would transform the legacy 20th Century communications, navigation and surveillance domains into an operating environment employing the advanced technologies of the future.
A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee illustrates the FAA’s challenge in defining NextGen, which would transform 20th Century communications, navigation and surveillance into the advanced technology environment of 2025 and beyond.
Under a new FAA rule, ADS-B installation costs will at least double for corporate aircraft and could increase by up to 700 percent for general aviation aircraft, according to the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA). The association bases its prediction on a decision by the FAA’s aircraft engineering division that, effective August 30, field approval of ADS-B Out installations was replaced by the STC process.
ICAO’s two-week Assembly in Montreal in late September/early October covered much new ground as senior representatives from the world’s nations got to grips with the challenges civil aviation faces as it transitions to a still unfolding advanced-technology environment.
NASA has awarded a $1.2 million contract to Honeywell and Gulfstream for an 11-month test program of synthetic- and enhanced-vision systems (ESVS) technologies in business jet cockpits. The program’s overall research goal is to use SVS and EVS views for “equivalent visual operations,” a key initiative in the FAA’s plan for NextGen.
In an October report titled “FAA faces significant risks in implementing the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast program and realizing benefits,” the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General (IG) criticizes the FAA’s uncertainty on avionics costs and specifications, ground station contracting arrangements and program oversight, among other things.
Progress on the FAA’s ambitious NextGen overhaul of the ATC system in the U.S. has reached a vital juncture, one in which a long list of high-tech challenges confronting developers must be addressed quickly to avoid program delays and cost overruns in the future.
Despite the best efforts of numerous aviation groups and a small army of lobbyists, Congress adjourned early last month without enacting an FAA reauthorization bill. Before the rush to get out of Washington began in earnest, lawmakers passed a 16th short-term extension of FAA programs and funding, which President Obama signed into law.
The U.S. DOT Inspector General (IG), the FAA’s fiscal watchdog, recently issued a report titled “FAA faces significant risks in implementing the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast program and realizing benefits.” The IG examined key risks to the FAA’s ADS-B implementation and assessed strengths and weaknesses of its contracting approach.