Arlington, Va. -- Representatives from a diverse group of industries and organizations joined today to discuss the successes and upcoming challenges of NextGen, the FAA’s initiative to modernize the nation’s air transportation system, and to warn in this last day of the fiscal year about sequestration budget cuts that threaten to impede NextGen’s progress.
“If we don’t keep moving forward on modernization with adequate funding for new technologies and capabilities our nation’s air transportation system will be overcome by growing demand,” said Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Marion C. Blakey in a panel discussion. Blakey added, “NextGen is a whole package—a system of systems approach. Piecemeal technological add-ons will not lead to the dramatic safety and efficiency gains NextGen promises.”
Providing the perspective of the airline industry, Captain Don Dillman, Airlines for America’s Managing Director of Flight Operations said, “Accelerated deployment of NextGen policies and procedures will modernize the U.S. aviation industry and make air travel even more efficient for passengers and shippers.”
Active pilot Scott Rosenberg, who flies for Alaska Airlines, spoke about NextGen satellite-based navigation arrival procedures into the Seattle-Tacoma International airport which promise to cut fuel consumption by 2.1 million gallons annually, and reduce carbon emissions by 22,000 metric tons. “NextGen, particularly the ‘Greener Skies Over Seattle’ initiative, has been a win-win for the community, the environment, the traveling public, the airlines and the FAA,” said Rosenberg. “The NextGen program has the potential to provide the largest aviation safety value of any project in recent history.
Representing the viewpoint of travelers, Michael McCormick, Executive Director and COO of the Global Business Travel Association remarked, “America’s businesses send their employees on more than seven million flights each month. Efficient, safe air travel enables invaluable face-to-face meetings with clients and partners, ensuring businesses can compete effectively in the global marketplace. NextGen is essential to reduce flight delays and system slowdowns that disrupt air travel and business opportunities, and slow economic growth.”
Also speaking at the event was Deron Lovaas, Director of the Federal Transportation Policy, Energy and Transportation Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, representing environmental interests. Reductions in CO2 emissions from new technologies like NextGen and commercially viable biofuels will substantially reduce aviation’s carbon footprint and impact on the environment.
At the event, AIA released a new report on NextGen, which details recent program successes and addresses obstacles that stand in the way of additional NextGen progress. The report can be accessed at: http://aia-aerospace2.matrixredesign.net/economics/reports_white_papers/.