1
Introduction

The Vision 100—Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act, which was enacted on December 12, 2003 (see Appendix B), directed the secretary of transportation to form the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS) Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) as an office within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The JPDO was charged with creating and implementing an integrated plan for NGATS, as well as overseeing and coordinating relevant research and technology development plans, programs, and priorities. The JPDO is jointly managed by the FAA and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and it is supported by staff from NASA, the FAA, other parts of the Department of Transportation, and other involved agencies: the Departments of Commerce, Defense, and Homeland Security and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act also directed the secretary of transportation to establish and serve as the chair of a senior policy committee consisting of the heads of each of the agencies involved in the JPDO (or their designees). The Senior Policy Committee oversees the work of the JPDO by providing policy guidance and advice “regarding the national goals and strategic objectives for the transformation of the nation’s air transportation system to meet its future needs.” The Senior Policy Committee is also charged with identifying resource needs and making legislative proposals regarding the future of the air transportation system.

The JPDO is focused on the transformation of the air transportation system.1 The JPDO defines transformation as “technologically-enabled change that simultaneously meets seemingly conflicting requirements in the face of increasing demand—e.g., greater security and greater efficiency” (NGATS JPDO, 2005, p. 1).2 The Integrated Plan issued by the JPDO in December 2004 documents the progress the JPDO has made in defining its goals for transforming the air transportation system and developing strategies to achieve those goals. The Integrated Plan anticipates that efforts to achieve the future vision for air transportation will involve “collaboration among federal, state, and local governments and private industry” and “will be coordinated through eight major strategies that broadly address the goals and objectives for the NGATS” (NGATS JPDO, 2004, p. 15).

As described in the Integrated Plan, the JPDO has formed an integrated product team (IPT) to define and implement each of the transformation strategies, which are as follows:

  • Develop airport infrastructure to meet future demand.

  • Establish an effective security system without limiting mobility or civil liberties.

  • Establish an agile air traffic system (i.e., a system that accommodates future requirements and readily responds to shifts in demand from all users).

  • Establish user-specific situational awareness.

1  

In terms of customer satisfaction, the overall effectiveness of air transportation for passengers and cargo is a multimodal problem encompassing the entire trip, from point of origin to the departure airport and onward to the arrival airport and the final destination. However, the scope of the JPDO’s Integrated Plan—and this report—is limited to transportation issues under the purview of federal agencies that are directly responsible for aviation: from the curb of the terminal at the departure airport to the curb of the terminal at the arrival airport.

2  

The assessment committee uses demand generally to refer to both consumer demand (the amount of air transportation services purchased, in terms of revenue passenger miles and revenue cargo ton miles) and the load imposed on the National Airspace System (in terms of aircraft operations). Demand reflects the response of consumers to prices and the shape of the air transportation demand curve. Consumer demand is closely linked to demand on the National Airspace System, as individual airlines adjust routes, schedules, levels of service, prices, etc., to both stimulate and satisfy consumer demand.



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Technology Pathways: Assessing the Integrated Plan for a Next Generation Air Transportation System 1 Introduction The Vision 100—Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act, which was enacted on December 12, 2003 (see Appendix B), directed the secretary of transportation to form the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS) Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) as an office within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The JPDO was charged with creating and implementing an integrated plan for NGATS, as well as overseeing and coordinating relevant research and technology development plans, programs, and priorities. The JPDO is jointly managed by the FAA and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and it is supported by staff from NASA, the FAA, other parts of the Department of Transportation, and other involved agencies: the Departments of Commerce, Defense, and Homeland Security and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act also directed the secretary of transportation to establish and serve as the chair of a senior policy committee consisting of the heads of each of the agencies involved in the JPDO (or their designees). The Senior Policy Committee oversees the work of the JPDO by providing policy guidance and advice “regarding the national goals and strategic objectives for the transformation of the nation’s air transportation system to meet its future needs.” The Senior Policy Committee is also charged with identifying resource needs and making legislative proposals regarding the future of the air transportation system. The JPDO is focused on the transformation of the air transportation system.1 The JPDO defines transformation as “technologically-enabled change that simultaneously meets seemingly conflicting requirements in the face of increasing demand—e.g., greater security and greater efficiency” (NGATS JPDO, 2005, p. 1).2 The Integrated Plan issued by the JPDO in December 2004 documents the progress the JPDO has made in defining its goals for transforming the air transportation system and developing strategies to achieve those goals. The Integrated Plan anticipates that efforts to achieve the future vision for air transportation will involve “collaboration among federal, state, and local governments and private industry” and “will be coordinated through eight major strategies that broadly address the goals and objectives for the NGATS” (NGATS JPDO, 2004, p. 15). As described in the Integrated Plan, the JPDO has formed an integrated product team (IPT) to define and implement each of the transformation strategies, which are as follows: Develop airport infrastructure to meet future demand. Establish an effective security system without limiting mobility or civil liberties. Establish an agile air traffic system (i.e., a system that accommodates future requirements and readily responds to shifts in demand from all users). Establish user-specific situational awareness. 1   In terms of customer satisfaction, the overall effectiveness of air transportation for passengers and cargo is a multimodal problem encompassing the entire trip, from point of origin to the departure airport and onward to the arrival airport and the final destination. However, the scope of the JPDO’s Integrated Plan—and this report—is limited to transportation issues under the purview of federal agencies that are directly responsible for aviation: from the curb of the terminal at the departure airport to the curb of the terminal at the arrival airport. 2   The assessment committee uses demand generally to refer to both consumer demand (the amount of air transportation services purchased, in terms of revenue passenger miles and revenue cargo ton miles) and the load imposed on the National Airspace System (in terms of aircraft operations). Demand reflects the response of consumers to prices and the shape of the air transportation demand curve. Consumer demand is closely linked to demand on the National Airspace System, as individual airlines adjust routes, schedules, levels of service, prices, etc., to both stimulate and satisfy consumer demand.

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Technology Pathways: Assessing the Integrated Plan for a Next Generation Air Transportation System Establish a comprehensive, proactive safety management approach. Develop environmental protection that allows sustained aviation growth. Develop a systemwide capability to reduce weather impacts. Harmonize equipage and operations globally. The organization of the JPDO and the Senior Policy Committee is summarized in Figure 1-1. To facilitate stakeholder involvement, the JPDO is establishing the NGATS Institute to assist in the selection of experts from industry and academia to participate on the IPTs and conduct analyses in support of the IPTs and JPDO. The JPDO has approximately 50 government and contractor staff, including the heads of the IPTs, some of whom are working with the JPDO on a part-time basis. The secretary of transportation and the FAA administrator have both been supportive of the JPDO, as shown by their direct involvement in the work of the JPDO and their public statements. The involvement of senior executives from other departments as members of the Senior Policy Committee indicates the importance that other departments place on this activity. In early 2004, NASA requested that the National Research Council (NRC) establish the Committee on Technology Pathways: Assessing the Integrated Plan for a Next Generation Air Transportation System (referred to hereinafter as the assessment committee). The assessment committee was directed to study the JPDO’s Integrated Plan, and it was given the option of discussing and commenting on the JPDO process for developing and implementing the Integrated Plan. The scope of the committee’s work included research and technology components of civil aviation, homeland security, and national security flight operations involving airlines, air taxis, helicopters, general aviation, and unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as the work of the IPTs. However, the IPT approach was approved during the first year of the JPDO’s existence, and the IPTs were still developing their individual plans during the course of this study. As a result, the assessment committee had limited opportunity for substantive interaction with the IPTs: Committee members met FIGURE 1-1 Organization of the JPDO and the Senior Policy Committee. DOT, Department of Transportation; DHS, Department of Homeland Security; DOC, Department of Commerce; OSTP, Office of Science and Technology Policy; REDAC, Research, Engineering, and Development Advisory Committee. SOURCE: JPDO.

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Technology Pathways: Assessing the Integrated Plan for a Next Generation Air Transportation System with the heads of four IPTs, and the committee received a five-page summary of the plans being made by one IPT. In addition, because much of the detailed technology planning and technical analysis that otherwise might have been included in the Integrated Plan is being created and documented by the IPTs, the JPDO has prepared the Integrated Plan at a higher level than would be anticipated from a reading of the legislation that established the JPDO and mandated the creation of the Integrated Plan. Likewise this report, which assesses the content of the Integrated Plan, is somewhat less technical in nature than would be anticipated from a reading of the statement of task for this study. This chapter briefly describes key elements of the Integrated Plan and the importance of taking a demand-based approach to improving the air transportation system. Chapter 2 suggests a new vision for the JPDO, describes the importance of establishing quantitative system goals, and urges the use of a risk-based approach to achieve those goals. Chapter 3 describes how the operational concepts in the Integrated Plan could be improved by grouping them according to the operational phases of the air transportation system. Chapter 4 recommends reducing the number of individual transformation strategies and IPTs by having each IPT correspond to a group of operational concepts. Chapter 4 also emphasizes the importance of research to develop core technologies and processes, suggests a list of technologies and processes that should be included in this core group, and recommends more vigorous action related to global collaboration and harmonization. Chapter 5 addresses issues associated with implementation, including resources and funding. Chapter 6 provides a summary recommendation and is followed by a complete listing of all findings and recommendations. Appendix A contains the table of contents of the Integrated Plan. Appendix B contains sections 709 and 710 of Public Law 108-176, which established the JPDO and the Senior Policy Committee. Appendix C tabulates the key elements that Congress directed the JPDO to include in the Integrated Plan and shows where these elements appear in the Integrated Plan. Appendix D presents the statement of task and study approach used by the assessment committee. Appendix E offers brief biographies of the members of the committee. Appendix F describes an approach developed by the committee for assessing goals and policies. Appendix G contains a planning document prepared by the Environmental IPT. Appendix H lists acronyms and abbreviations. OVERVIEW OF THE INTEGRATED PLAN The Next Generation Air Transportation System Integrated Plan, which was delivered to Congress in December 2004, is available online at <www.jpdo.aero>. The Plan’s table of contents appears in Appendix A. The Integrated Plan begins by describing three factors that the JPDO believes are key determinants of the future performance of the U.S. air transportation system (NGATS JPDO, 2004, pp. 3-5): Security. “We need to find ways to secure aviation without detracting from the affordability, speed, and predictable advantages we desire in air transportation.” Gridlock. “Aviation’s own success will erode the unique speed, predictability, and affordability benefits of air travel if the air transportation system does not expand and adapt at the same pace as the market demands.” Global leadership. U.S. leadership in aviation “is a result of the energy and creativity of America’s private sector…. Unless we establish a vision and framework that encourages and enables further private sector innovation, our competitiveness in aviation is likely to diminish.” The Integrated Plan then provides the following as a national vision for air transportation in 2025: “A transformed air transportation system that provides services tailored to individual customer needs, allows all communities to participate in the global economy, and seamlessly integrates civil and military operations” (NGATS JPDO, 2004, p. 6). The Integrated Plan describes six system goals and performance characteristics as the basis for achieving the vision: Retain U.S. leadership in global aviation. Expand capacity. Ensure safety. Protect the environment. Ensure our national defense. Secure the nation. In the chapter “Operational Concepts,” the Integrated Plan discusses the following five areas: security operations safety assurance airport operations aircraft operations air traffic management (ATM) operations The plan includes a high-level (two-page) roadmap for 2005 to 2025, with a single line item and about four key milestones for each of the eight strategies. The plan also identifies seven key policy and technical challenges that must be overcome for these strategies to succeed: alignment of responsibilities and decision making across stakeholders alignment of investments and coordination of transition definition of equity and contribution toward national goals

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Technology Pathways: Assessing the Integrated Plan for a Next Generation Air Transportation System innovation in managing the safety effects of changes responding to future demand and complexity creative treatment of a mixed legacy and future fleet assessing the merits of transformation The Integrated Plan continues by describing an approach to transformation that includes changes in government– private sector interactions and changes within government, such as establishment of the JPDO and the Senior Policy Committee. The Integrated Plan’s chapter “Approach to Transportation” describes specific IPT responsibilities, including the following: managing the planning and execution of all relevant work to complete the assigned strategy conducting analyses and trade studies to select and validate implementation alternatives analyzing changes currently under way, identifying gaps, and establishing the required government and/or industry research and development activities to close the gaps identifying nontechnical approaches such as policy, regulation, and operational procedures establishing detailed requirements for individual mission areas conducting advanced concept and technology demonstrations creating a transition plan for implementation of products creating public–private partnerships The most detailed part of the Integrated Plan revisits the eight transformation strategies (see first page of this chapter). For each strategy, the Integrated Plan describes (1) how the strategy ties into the overall objectives, (2) the mission of the IPT that has been assembled to implement the strategy, (3) the transformation direction, and (4) linkages with other strategies. The Integrated Plan concludes with a one-page summary of next steps. The summary states that, during fiscal year (FY) 2005, the IPTs will focus on identifying those on-going efforts that are essential to the success of the program. Through the IPT activities we will determine how to leverage the existing resources from all activities by coordinating and restructuring the programs of record, consistent with the developed architectures and identified requirements so as to maximize the return on the investments. The need for funding augmentation will be determined as part of the Senior Policy Committee oversight of the program activities during fiscal year 2005/2006 and addressed as part of the administration’s budget process. The initial actions of the IPTs will be to refine the options for future solutions, assess existing programs and plans, leverage what is available, and identify gaps and key questions for further research and development. System engineering/ integration work will begin in earnest to support the architecture and IPT planning. These more detailed plans will be reflected as annexes to the second edition of this plan, and will be reflected in the fiscal year 2007 budget submission. (NGATS JPDO, 2004, p. 35) DEMAND IS THE KEY The Integrated Plan provides a comprehensive description of the future challenges faced by the air transportation system and the actions necessary to address these challenges. Given the wide scope of the challenges and the limited resources available, the assessment committee believes that the effectiveness of the Integrated Plan would be enhanced if future editions prioritized the challenges to make sure that the key goal of satisfying future demand is adequately addressed. Research efforts should be limited to what is necessary and sufficient, even if that means passing up the opportunity to conduct research that is interesting but expected to be of limited value. In particular, the committee concurs with another NRC report that examined the future of the U.S. air transportation system: Securing the Future of U.S. Air Transportation: A System in Peril. That report concluded that “increased demand is the most critical long-term issue facing all aspects of the air transportation system. Issues associated with safety and security, capacity, environmental protection, and consumer satisfaction are all exacerbated by greater demand” (NRC, 2003, p .9). Vigorous new research in each of these areas is needed to create an NGATS that can satisfy future demand. The report warns that “business as usual is likely to result in an air transportation system where growth in demand has been greatly curtailed by undercapacity, environmental effects, customer dissatisfaction, and/or factors related to safety and security” (NRC, 2003, p. 10). REFERENCES National Research Council (NRC). 2003. Securing the Future of U.S. Air Transportation: A System in Peril. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. Available online at <http://books.nap.edu/html/system_in_peril/final_report.pdf>. Next Generation Air Transportation System Joint Planning and Development Office (NGATS JPDO). 2004. Next Generation Air Transportation System Integrated Plan. Washington, D.C.: JPDO. Available online at <www.jpdo.aero>. NGATS JPDO. 2005. Next Generation Air Transportation System Joint Planning and Development Office Aviation Industry and Community Workshops. Washington, D.C.: JPDO. Available online at <www.jpdo.aero/site_content/nationalplan.html>.