While a lot has been said about the Next General Air Traffic Control system, also known as NextGen, there may be some pilots who aren’t sure what it is. A “laymen’s explanation” was just released from U.S. Rep. John Mica’s office, which notes that NextGen is an umbrella term for the ongoing, wide-ranging transformation of the National Airspace System (NAS). At its most basic level, NextGen represents an evolution from a 50-year-old ground-based system of air traffic control to a satellite-based system of air traffic management. The FAA, the lead in the multi-agency planning team, plans to develop aviation-specific applications for existing, widely-used technologies, such as the Global Positioning System (GPS) and technological innovation in areas such as weather forecasting, data networking and digital communications. Hand in hand with state-of-the-art technology will be new airport infrastructure and new procedures, including the shift of certain decision-making responsibility from the ground to the cockpit.
The FAA has projections that indicate that when NextGen is fully implemented, aircraft will safely fly closer together on more direct routes, reducing delays and providing benefits for the environment and the economy through reductions in carbon emissions, fuel consumption and noise.
The FAA currently has three NextGen Testbeds across the country. They are the Florida NextGen Testbed at Daytona Beach International Airport, Daytona Beach, the New York Testbed, FAA Tech Center, Atlantic City, N.J., and the Texas Testbed, NASA Facility at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).
The purpose of the testbeds is to:
- Evaluate NextGen concepts and technologies, but more importantly to demonstrate that NextGen initiatives have measureable benefits.
- Demonstrate and understand the benefits of operational improvements early in planning.
- Identify potential risks early in planning.
- Understand integration and interoperability issues.
- Foster Government and Industry partnerships in support of developing the future of the national airspace system.
For more information: FAA.gov