Fly the distance with NextGen

Today we introduce our newest blog, Fly the distance with NextGen, which will explore what the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) means to GA pilots and what we need to do to prepare for it. The author, a private pilot and chief engineer at MatchBox Aeronautical Systems, wants this blog to be interactive, so be sure to post your comments and questions.

It is said: “If you want change you have to make it, but if you want progress you have to drive it.” Modern day technology is nothing but change and progress forced into the same space and the same time. Technological achievements have elevated our quality of life in just about every aspect, including aviation. By combining technical advancements with a strong American entrepreneurial spirit, as well as the military, NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and many other agencies and businesses throughout the country, the aviation industry has evolved and prospered.

Throughout aviation history, our navigable skies have been internationally recognized as the safest form of transportation used throughout the entire planet. When you consider that at any point of time during the day there are more than 5,000 aircraft flying the skies above, you have to consider just what a phenomenal achievement this has become.

Technology never stands still and, with that, comes change and progress. The latest is a mission that will overhaul the entire National Airspace System (NAS). After decades using a system that made aeronautical travel an everyday occurrence, it has begun to reach its end of life, again, due to change and progress. By the year 2025 there will be at least twice as many airplanes to manage within our airspace system, more traffic than the already limited current day system can control.

The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) will harness today’s and tomorrow’s technologies in controlling and managing the United States air transport system and will also be adopted by just about every country in the world. NextGen is expected to exceed current radar coverage by way of improved satellite-based technology (GPS), more sophisticated avionics, and a massive ground station deployment throughout the country and the world.

The big question is: How does general aviation fit into this new airspace system? Followed by a lot more questions, such as: Is there a roll-out plan for the GA sector? Will it be mandated over time? How much will it cost you? What benefits, if any, will there be for you and the GA eco-space?

All of these questions and more will be answered throughout this series of articles in an effort to get each and every person associated with GA up to speed, which will allow for even better flying experiences. We will focus on the operational and economical aspects NextGen can offer GA. We will dive into each of the five major elements that make up the NextGen system, allowing each reader the opportunity to understand and learn how NextGen will enhance future aviation experiences.

Let’s first identify each of the five elements that make up NextGen:

1. Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B): The backbone of the NextGen System is ADS-B, which introduces advancements light years beyond current navigation, surveillance and communications systems currently being used. By way of state-of-the-art GPS technologies, ADS-B will secure a level of aeronautical accuracy never before achieved in modern-day aviation. The system will operate without the dependency of Surface Surveillance Radars (SSRs), although that system will remain active in terminal and high traffic areas and will add that much more support to ADS-B and the NextGen system. When fully deployed, ATC and pilots will have a total view of all ADS-B aircraft. It will provide precision traffic avoidance, surveillance, tracking, messaging, weather, and more with world-wide coverage.

2. System Wide Information Management (SWIM): SWIM is like an IT conduit capable of accepting many different types of aeronautical data, which will increase their efficiency by combining them in into a single shared program. Aeronautical data such as weather, surveillance, and even flight data will be shipped over SWIM.

3. Next Generation Network Enabled Weather (NNEW): For the first time, by way of the creation of the 4-D Wx Data Cube, an infrastructure will import and unify thousands of weather sensors to establish weather observations and forecast information. It will then compile and filter this data so it can be used with decision support tools that will reduce weather delays. A single comprehensive weather image gets assembled with this data and is distributed to all users. A user on the west coast of the U.S. will view the same image in real time as a user on the East Coast, all to reduce the weather impact in the NAS.

4. Next Generation Data Communications: In an effort to reduce voice communications, NextGen Data Communications will import and export data digitally, which will allow pilot messages and clearances to be faster and more accurate, enhancing capacity and improving safety.

5. NAS Voice Switch (NVS): Currently there are 17 different voice switching systems in the NAS, some more than 20 years old. The goal of NVS is to use a single air-to-ground and ground-to-ground voice system for better reliability and efficiency.

Yes, there is much to learn and observe as we dig deep into a system that will become a new part of our aviation experience. We are very proud to work with General Aviation News to bring you this educational series. It is designed to be interactive, so if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us through the MatchBox Aeronautical Systems website or at There may be areas that need more attention than we allowed for. No problem, just let us know. We will post your questions, along with the answers, on both websites for all to read.

Join us in this epic journey through time and space as we bring you to the future by way of the past. It will get deep; but by understanding where it all came from you will have received a concrete foundation on which to accept the future. This new system is yours: Learn it and embrace it. After all, it belongs to you!

Jeffrey Boccaccio is a private pilot and chief engineer at MatchBox Aeronautical Systems. You can reach him at or


  1. Troy Henderson III says


    I also am learning a great deal here. Do you plan on discribing NDB, VOR and GPS at the same level?
    That will be a big help. Thanks

    Troy Henderson III

  2. Tony Militano says

    As much as I am concerned about how NextGen will affect my flying privilege the
    series, at least so far, has allowed me to have a much better understanding on how
    the National Airspace System as grown. I never knew any of this. They should include some of this in the private pilot curriculum. Please continue the great work.
    We, our flight club, are looking forward to getting the skinny on GPS. Hopefully it is
    detailed out as well as your Four Course explanation was.

  3. Angelo Forte says

    sounds great, It”s the cost that turns me and many other pilots off. I don’t own a five million dollor jet, I own a 1953 PA22 Tripacer thats worth 25000.if im lucky. Im hearing price’s in the 20,000 to
    30,000 range for an ADS B system. what happens to the people who own J3’s without an electrical
    system.It dosn’t make any sense having to spend twice as much as your plane is worth to be able to keep flying But then I suspect is the purpose behind ADS B.

    • Jeffrey Boccaccio says


      You really will not have to be so concerned about this for your PA22 for some time. For sure the costs today may be high but as a GA pilot the 2020 rule has much of the airspace still pretty clear for conventional equipment.
      Plus as time goes by we hope to see less expensive products become available for way less than the 20 or 30 K you speak of.
      Thanks for your note and don’t hesitate to contact me for any further information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *