Delays in NextGen to be focus of hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Subcommittee on Aviation, chaired by U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), will hold a hearing next Wednesday on the ongoing delays in the FAA’s air traffic control system modernization program, known as NextGen.

More than a decade ago, Congress, the federal government, and the aviation industry began working on a program to transform our World War II-era air traffic control system into a modern air traffic management system capable of meeting future air traffic demands. However, while NextGen is widely regarded as one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in U.S. history, the program has earned a reputation for schedule delays and cost overruns, according to elected officials.

The Inspector General (IG) of the U.S. Department of Transportation will testify on Wednesday, July 17, regarding the preliminary findings of a draft audit of the NextGen program’s delays. The FAA administrator, Michael Huerta, will also testify before the subcommittee.

The hearing, “Causes of Delays to the FAA’s NextGen Program,” is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 17, in 2167 Rayburn House Office Building.

More information about the hearing, including testimony, additional background information, and a link to a live webcast, can be found here as it becomes available.

Comments

  1. says

    I agree that, the cost to private aircraft owners will be incredible. From the government side ADS B is far cheaper than land based radar, in th elong run. But for the small aircraft owner with a plane 40 years old or greater, the ADSB option is an expensive burden. A current costs, the avionics are far more expensive than the plane it is going into. Eventually general aviation wil loss these older birds as owners are faced with purchasing radios that simply have features that aren’t needed by the general aviation VFR bird and no IFR rated pilot. GNS 430W suit of rails are nice but have way to many features for most folks I see flying below 10k feet on VFR/VMC days. I think this costs will ultimately lead to the sale of many aircraft that would normally not be sold if it wern’t for such requirements being placed on GA. Combine that with the attack on 100LL and it continuing rise in cost and GA will indeed suffer.

    • Kimberly Bush says

      Frank-
      This isn’t necessarily true, according to the GA pilots I have encountered in the past couple of years. Most of them like ‘bright, shiny new toys’ as much as the smallest child.
      A big part of the problem is the ‘moving target’ of Federal government: when is this mandate actually going to be required to fly?
      Cost is a factor, of course. Having Ms. Giselle of the FAA tell a group of GA pilots at Oshkosh last year, “Well, I am a pilot, too, and I LIKE IT!” wasn’t the best approach to a bunch of old men who really don’t get their heads turned by every pretty girl that walks by. Again, this seems to be a moving target. The initial cost has been relayed to me as anywhere from the get-by option of under $1000 (handheld rather than aircraft installed) to the $5000 range (part is estimated at $4500 and you probably aren’t qualified to install avionics). When I asked an FAA rep at a seminar the other day if the ‘in’ option and the ‘out’ option are all on one unit, he couldn’t answer. He had recently replaced a transponder and went old-school to save money.
      It needs to be kept in mind as well that many of our oldsters are only VFR now, because of bad night vision. They grew up talking on their headsets and LIKE IT, very well. This is the group most resistant to changes, and at the same time, still most influential on ‘the kids’. Their kids either bought them or encouraged them to buy a cell phone, so the kids could track them all the time. Many of them are still confused about the ‘send’ and ‘end’ buttons.
      No one wants to be the first to admit “I crashed because I didn’t understand how to use this damned technology!” Particularly when they have no problem whatsoever with keeping track of 6 or more different gauges.
      Ever had your internet fail? Ever been in a dead spot with your cell phone? Ever left your cell phone at home and have an auto breakdown?
      NextGen’s implementation was originally planned for 2015. Now they are saying 2020. It is being gradually implemented as I type. Part of the problem seems to be in different person’s perception of the word ‘infrastructure’. Our local airport (KSPI) did an ‘upgrade of the entrance’ and concrete/asphalt ain’t cheap. But they money was there and they had to use it or lose it. Seems that Reserve funds for future use is no longer an option.

  2. Terry D Welander says

    No one has presented a compelling case for NextGen. Worse, it is just more complexity without added safety. It just adds cost where it is not needed. NextGen needs to be optional; for anyone who desires it. The existing system is just fine.

    Aircraft quality transponder avionics as currently installed are substantially reliable. Placing a mandate for new systems are unwarranted; without any real safety improvement. Based on everything I have read, aircraft separation will be no better than the current system with NextGen. And may possibly be worse in any bad weather relying on weak satellite signal coverage compared to existing transponder signal strengths. New is only good if it is more reliable and less expensive than existing; which does not exist with NextGen.

    NextGen was pushed along without the usual vigorous detailed review of existing vs new systems usually gets. So far, NextGen flunks and needs a lot more study, comparisons,
    and reliability testing under all, I repeat all weather conditions; with published reports to the public on all testings and outcomes.

    So not rushing the FAA on NextGen seems really smart. In fact, getting removal of the NextGen mandate seems even smarter since it appears not well thought out and ill conceived based on reliability and cost; as good an idea as it originally appeared.

    I am satisfied to stick with my existing transponder and urge the government to do the same until reliability and reduced cost of NextGen are proven facts from thousands to millions of hours of testing in government test aircraft; instead of the hoopla and salesmanship we have been subject to so far on NextGen.

    If NextGen never gets to the proven reliability and low cost of existing transponders,
    so be it. NextGen can then be added to the not small technology scrap heap.

    The delays certainly appear to be the testing has finally gotten around to trying to match up to the rigorous existing standards of existing transponders. And no one will say so; which likely means the testers are not yet even close to getting to the equipment and weather reliability and relative low cost of existing transponders. Hurray for what actually works: existing transponders.

    Based on my travels, any signal satellite based does not appear to be as reliable as any ground based system; and costs significantly more; which is one definition of dumb.
    It is time to just say no to these satellite signal enamored money wasters.

    • J Caruso says

      Are you in a cave? Do you still think a ADF approach is cutting edge technology? Move into 2013. You need to read exactly what ADS-B does and is before you bash it. The stations are ahead of schedule and working great. I use it daily and am satisfied with it and only a portion of what it does is in use. I guess you also think GPS WASS is not any good. Look, listen and learn before opening your mouth and you may appear as if you have the ability to actually comprehend the task at hand

      • Kimberly Bush says

        Yeah, J. I did. And I read “The Plan”. Did you know that it includes the acronym SWIM for one section of flight?
        As a former flight attendant and current student pilot, as well as a very well-behaved passenger, I would like to let you know that I don’t like the link between flying and water. Ditching STILL doesn’t have a reassuring sound to me.
        So far, this is still No Child Left Behind for Pilots.
        Do you converse regularly with an educators? I do.
        They STILL are not impressed and THAT unfunded mandate has been in force for how long now?
        Yeppers! Big brother always knows best how to make you pay.

  3. Kimberly Bush says

    Oh, no, no, no! Move along! Nothing to see here.
    One name: Jamie Rankin, President of AWAC of ATW. Member of the Regional Airline Association’s Next Gen (or liasons to this messed up idea, not clear which) who loves, loves, loves the consensus through committee concept.
    Mr. Rankin runs a company who, in 2007, was still passing out pagers (with the WRONG directions for the model issued, btw) to flight crew, rather than suggesting a cell phone allowance.
    YAY, Jamie!

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