NextGen: Aligning Costs, Benefits and Political Leadership

The aviation system that is part of the life-blood of our economy is poised to face rising demand with limited additional capacity and outdated technology. This could put considerable stress on the system in terms of congestion and efficiency. The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) represents a series of incremental policies, procedures, and technological changes to modernize the air traffic control (ATC) system into a more efficient, state-of-the-art satellite-based system.

On the technology side, NextGen is composed of two main components: aircraft based equipment that re- cords and transmits the exact location of the aircraft using Global Positioning System (GPS), and ground based infrastructure that can receive and analyze the GPS data. Infrastructural improvements also entail devising more direct and fuel-efficient routes, and upgrading the computer and backup system used at 20 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control centers nationwide. The infrastructure implementation is currently in the hands of the FAA and funded by the Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF), while aircraft equipage is expected to be paid for by the operators. Sakib bin Salam, 31 pp., 2012.

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