The FAA has taken major steps to enhance safety and improve efficiency in our nation’s airspace.
Nationwide, the FAA has spent $7.5 billion in congressionally appropriated funds on the air traffic modernization program known as NextGen over the past seven years.
That investment has resulted in $2.7 billion in benefits to passengers and the airlines to date, and is expected to yield more than $160 billion in benefits through 2030 from those improvements.
NextGen is a comprehensive suite of state-of-the-art technologies and procedures that, in short, enable aircraft to move more directly from Point A to Point B. This helps passengers reach their destinations on time, while reducing fuel burn and lessening our impact on the environment.
The success of NextGen depends on the FAA‘s collaboration with our partners in the aviation industry, including airlines, airports, our unions, and state and local governments. Without them we would not be where we are today.
(‘Take off’ on NextGen Flight 101 to see firsthand how the FAA has optimized communications, operations, and performance to deliver direct benefits to airlines, airport operations and the flying public. Courtesy of the FAA and YouTube)
NextGen is one of the most ambitious infrastructure and modernization projects in U.S. history.
Its successful, ongoing rollout is the result of rigorous acquisition, program and portfolio management, and stakeholder engagement with the airline industry and other members of the aviation community.
The FAA invited airline stakeholders to help develop the blueprint for NextGen and they continue to have a seat at the table in setting NextGen priorities and investments through the NextGen Advisory Committee.
Delivering Nationwide Infrastructure
Tracking and separating aircraft has become better and safer.
The foundational infrastructure for NextGen is complete, with benefits seen across the entire National Airspace System.
The infrastructure includes the satellite-based system — called Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) — that will replace radars as the primary means by which air traffic controllers track and manage aircraft.
ADS-B is a foundational technology that modernizes the national airspace from a ground radar system to satellite-based GPS technology. This satellite-based technology enables more efficient separation of aircraft and provides coverage where radar doesn’t exist, like over the Gulf of Mexico and in mountainous terrain.
(ADS-B is providing free traffic and weather information for GA pilots today. Courtesy of the FAA and YouTube)
FAA and aviation industry leaders have committed to equip aircraft with new NextGen avionics technology by the January 1, 2020, deadline, through the creation of an Equip 2020 working group led by the NextGen Institute.
The Equip 2020 effort will ensure a more accurate view of aircraft location, increasing safety and efficiency.
Delivering Improved Air Traffic Control
A major nationwide infrastructure upgrade is complete. We are prepared to handle the changes and increase of traffic in the National Airspace System.
Aircraft nationwide are now flying more precise, satellite-based procedures than traditional ground-based procedures, bringing benefits to the flying public today.
At the core is En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM), which is helping to advance the transition of air traffic control to air traffic management. ERAM is fully deployed at the 20 en route centers across the country where controllers handle high altitude traffic. ERAM processes flight and radar data, enables communications, and generates data for controllers’ screens.
(A satellite-based system of constantly flowing information is now online from coast to coast that will help the FAA and airlines file more efficient flight plans, fly quicker routes from gate to gate, and upgrade the travel experience for millions of passengers every year. Courtesy of the FAA and YouTube)
Controllers can track up to 1,900 aircraft at a time — increased from 1,100 under the previous system. Instead of 20 separate systems, we have a single system in the 20 en route centers.
In addition to increasing air traffic flow and allowing controllers to handle more traffic in greater geographic areas, ERAM is the platform for new NextGen capabilities.
To Learn More about the NextGen air traffic modernization program, please visit https://www.faa.gov/nextgen/works/.