WASHINGTON, D.C. — After causing the FAA to limp along on 23 temporary funding extensions, Congress finally passed a four-year authorization last month. A question now facing FAA watchers is: Will this steadier funding mean a smoothing of the turbulence the agency has seen in developing the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen)?
A report released Feb. 16 by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that of 30 major NextGen programs studied, costs for 11 have increased from initial estimates by a total of $4.2 billion and 15 programs experienced delays ranging from two months to more than 14 years. Of the 15 programs experiencing schedule delays, 10 also had cost increases. The WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) program, which the FAA estimates will be completed in 2013, is the one experiencing the 14-year delay.