The Next Generation Air Transportation System is at the nexus of accomplishing two significant goals facing the U.S. civil aviation industry today—expanding our national airspace system and addressing growing environmental and energy concerns, said AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey in testimony today.
“Our industry has employed the people, developed the technology and manufactured the products that have helped make the U.S. air transportation system the world’s gold standard for more than half a century,” Blakey said at a hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation. “But to remain so, we need to bring our system into the 21st Century.”
One of the challenges to realizing the benefits of NextGen is establishing a sound business case for equipping aircraft with upgraded avionics systems. AIA recommends equipage-funding legislation that encourages private-sector investment capital and government-guaranteed loan arrangements, including outcome-based performance metrics to reduce investment risk. This will allow for innovative ways to incentivize retrofitting of commercial and general aviation aircraft with NextGen compatible equipment.
“Equipping aircraft is, as I’ve said before, the long pole in the tent,” said Blakey. “It’s an expensive undertaking, but it’s as much a part of the infrastructure as GPS satellites. Quite frankly, without equipage there is no NextGen.”
Blakey also recommended that the existing environmental review process—the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA process—be streamlined. The certification of thousands of new terminal area procedures are required for full NextGen implementation and including procedure development and certification in the Vision 100 Aviation Streamlining process will simplify that process.
Other areas addressed by Blakey in her testimony included establishing integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system, commercialization of sustainable fuels and foreign repair station oversight. The testimony is available at: http://www.aia-aerospace.org/newsroom/speeches_testimony/