New report charts course to NextGen

How to leverage America’s current leadership in global aviation to assure primacy in the 21st century is the focus of a new report prepared by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Produced in collaboration with Booz Allen Hamilton, the report, “Assuring the Transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation System,” synthesizes discussions and findings from an Executive Session held at Harvard Kennedy School last November.

The Executive Session brought together more than two dozen aviation industry leaders, senior government executives, along with civilian researchers to explore the extraordinary developments in technology and operations and identify the challenges ahead for introducing them into the “NextGen” Air Transportation System.

“NextGen is among the most significant efforts at cross-boundary transformation ever undertaken by the United States Government, in collaboration with the aviation community,” the report states. “The future of the sky has arrived, yet it remains slow to realize. All share a passion and commitment to the success of NextGen, but disagree on how to get there.”

The report captures the nearly two-day session and articulates five key elements for the continued success and transformation of America’s national air space:

  1. A governance strategy for NextGen that builds support and creative solutions throughout the network of travelers, pilots, air traffic controllers, local economic development authorities, and political leaders for NextGen investments;
  2. Leadership in politics, technology, financing, and governance so that the difficult issues are resolved and progress continues;
  3. Operational incentives that accelerate the adoption of new technology and procedures, assuring that the beneficiaries of NextGen realize measurable outcomes;
  4. The development of innovative financing solutions that take stock not only of the nation’s financial condition, but also the great public benefits of NextGen with returns to reduced delays, cleaner air, and competitive advantage for the nation in global trade; and
  5. Risk management that addresses the major issues that have plagued such complex undertakings so that “predictable surprises” can be averted.

“Recent years have provided for extraordinary innovation in avionics and civil aviation,” said Professor Stephen Goldsmith, co-author of the report and the director of the Center’s Innovations in Government Program. “As we move to NextGen, new challenges arise, and with it, a new vision for 21st century aviation.”

Fred Messina, executive advisor with Booz Allen Hamilton and report co-author said, “The aviation ‘mega-community’ is comprised literally of scores of stakeholders with nearly as many unique missions, objectives, and business cases. With this diversity comes daunting challenges. But our stakeholder diversity is also our greatest strength. The successful transformation to NextGen will be assured through collaboration and new ‘networked governance’ made possible by precisely those different perspectives.”

A copy of the report is available here.

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