FAA details next steps in NextGen progress

The Federal Aviation Agency is "on cusp of finishing" several key programs that underpin NextGen, its Next Generation Air Transportation System that aims to migrate America's air traffic control system to smarter, satellite-based and digital technologies.

The Federal Aviation Administration is “on cusp of finishing” several key programs that underpin NextGen, the agency’s Next Generation Air Transportation System, the agency said in its 2014 report on the project. NextGen aims to migrate America’s air traffic control system to smarter, satellite-based and digital technologies and add new procedures that will make air travel more efficient, convenient, predictable and environmentally friendly.

In his first report to Congress since becoming chief NextGen officer one year ago, FAA deputy administrator Mike Whitaker detailed progress made toward completing the technological foundation that is bringing greater efficiency and predictability to the nation’s airspace system.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast. In March 2014, the FAA completed installing ground infrastructure for ADS-B, a new surveillance system that uses GPS signals to determine an aircraft’s location and delivers traffic, weather and flight information directly to the cockpits of properly equipped aircraft.  

En Route Automation Modernization. The FAA is on track to have all 20 en-route centers operating with ERAM, by the middle of 2015. ERAM will replace HOST, the computer system the FAA has been using to control traffic in high-altitude airspace since the 1970s.

Terminal Automation Modernization and Replacement. By the end of 2016, the FAA expects to have made substantial progress deploying TAMR, a program that upgrades the automation platform used in FAA facilities that controls low-altitude traffic approaching and departing from airports.

“The FAA with NextGen is taking the next quantum leap in air traffic control,” Whitaker said in the FAA’s statement announcing the report.

“We have strengthened our partnerships with key stakeholders, coming to an agreement on a set of near-term capabilities that both the FAA and industry will concentrate on over the next three years. And we have concrete evidence that demonstrates how NextGen works for aviation and for America as a whole.”

With these technologies, the FAA said, airlines are saving time and fuel while reducing exhaust emissions. In the meantime, general aviation pilots are enjoying greater access to airports across the country – especially in bad weather – and air traffic controllers have new tools to help them make the critical decisions necessary to keep the world’s busiest and safest aviation system working as efficiently as possible.

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