Summary

The U.S. aviation industry, airline passengers, aircraft pilots, airports, and airline companies are all facing challenges. The air transportation system is experiencing unprecedented and increasing levels of use, with air traffic expected to increase two- to threefold by 2025. The federal government understands the critical need to update the U.S. air transportation system and is taking steps to do so by planning for a new, satellite-based air traffic control system intended to increase the efficiency of airport and air space use in the United States.

The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is and hellip; an example of active networking technology that updates itself with real-time shared information and tailors itself to the individual needs of all U.S. aircraft. NextGen and rsquo;s computerized air transportation network stresses adaptability by enabling aircraft to immediately adjust to ever-changing factors such as weather, traffic congestion, aircraft position via GPS, flight trajectory patterns, and security issues. By 2025, all aircraft and airports in U.S. airspace will be connected to the NextGen network and will continually share information in real time to improve efficiency, safety, and absorb the predicted increase in air transportation.1

On April 1-2, 2008, in response to a request from the Federal Aviation Administration and rsquo;s (FAA and rsquo;s) interagency Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) (see Appendix A), a workshop was held at the National Academies and rsquo; Beckman Center to gather observations on the research and development aspects of the baseline Integrated Work Plan for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) being prepared by JPDO (JPDO, 2008). The workshop was not conducted as a consensus-building activity intended to produce a formal assessment. Instead, the purpose of this report is to summarize the main points made at the 2-day workshop and to capture the themes of the discussions. Thus this workshop report does not present consensus findings or recommendations.

Chaired by John K. Lauber, senior vice president and chief product safety officer (retired), Airbus S.A.S., the workshop organizing committee planned sessions featuring experts from JPDO and invited guests from government, industry, and academia who were familiar with air traffic management (see Appendixes B and C).

The workshop opened with an overview of the NextGen concept of operation, presented by Robert Pearce, deputy director of the JPDO, and Jay Merkle, chief architect, JPDO. This overview was followed by a series of presentations by JPDO working groups on the following topics:

  • Airport operations and support;

  • Environmental management;

  • Air navigation operations,

  • Air navigation support, and flight operation support;

  • Positioning, navigation, and timing services and surveillance;

  • Weather information services;

  • Safety management;

1

Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO). 2008. Integrated Work Plan for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (IWP). Joint Planning and Development Office, Washington, DC. See http://www.jpdo.gov/nextgen.asp. Accessed May 15, 2008.



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OCR for page 1
Summary The U.S. aviation industry, airline passengers, aircraft pilots, airports, and airline companies are all facing challenges. The air transportation system is experiencing unprecedented and increasing levels of use, with air traffic expected to increase two- to threefold by 2025. The federal government understands the critical need to update the U.S. air transportation system and is taking steps to do so by planning for a new, satellite-based air traffic control system intended to increase the efficiency of airport and air space use in the United States. The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is . . . an example of active networking technology that updates itself with real-time shared information and tailors itself to the individual needs of all U.S. aircraft. NextGen’s computerized air transportation network stresses adaptability by enabling aircraft to immediately adjust to ever-changing factors such as weather, traffic congestion, aircraft position via GPS, flight trajectory patterns, and security issues. By 2025, all aircraft and airports in U.S. airspace will be connected to the NextGen network and will continually share information in real time to improve efficiency, safety, and absorb the predicted increase in air transportation.1 On April 1-2, 2008, in response to a request from the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) interagency Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) (see Appendix A), a workshop was held at the National Academies’ Beckman Center to gather observations on the research and development aspects of the baseline Integrated Work Plan for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) being prepared by JPDO (JPDO, 2008). The workshop was not conducted as a consensus-building activity intended to produce a formal assessment. Instead, the purpose of this report is to summarize the main points made at the 2-day workshop and to capture the themes of the discussions. Thus this workshop report does not present consensus findings or recommendations. Chaired by John K. Lauber, senior vice president and chief product safety officer (retired), Airbus S.A.S., the workshop organizing committee planned sessions featuring experts from JPDO and invited guests from government, industry, and academia who were familiar with air traffic management (see Appendixes B and C). The workshop opened with an overview of the NextGen concept of operation, presented by Robert Pearce, deputy director of the JPDO, and Jay Merkle, chief architect, JPDO. This overview was followed by a series of presentations by JPDO working groups on the following topics: • Airport operations and support; • Environmental management; • Air navigation operations, • Air navigation support, and flight operation support; • Positioning, navigation, and timing services and surveillance; • Weather information services; • Safety management; 1 Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO). 2008. Integrated Work Plan for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (IWP). Joint Planning and Development Office, Washington, DC. See http://www.jpdo.gov/nextgen.asp. Accessed May 15, 2008. 1

OCR for page 1
• Network-centric infrastructure services and operations; and • Layered adaptive security. Based on information contained in version 0.2 of the JPDO’s Integrated Work Plan, the presentations focused on the description of the concept of operation, the operational improvements to be offered by the technologies in each working group area, and requirements for implementation of these capabilities. Each presentation was followed by a discussion. Over the course of the discussions, a number of themes became apparent: • The sense of a lack of urgency on the part of the JPDO; • The perception of an inability to clearly articulate the goals of the NextGen program; • A concern with the narrow boundaries and with the inward focus (viz., on FAA and NASA) of the program; • A concern that readability and format issues make it difficult to understand the NextGen program as it was presented in version 0.2 of the Integrated Work Plan; • A concern that the JPDO has not developed an adequate transition plan with test implementations, demonstration projects, and so on, and does not have either the resources or the organizational authority to execute such a plan; • A concern with the ability of the organization to make difficult (politically charged) decisions; and • An awareness that NextGen faces technical challenges and risks in the research and development that needs to be undertaken. In addition, a number of specific research-related questions raised by individual workshop participants are listed in Chapter 3 of this report for consideration by JPDO for the next version of the Integrated Work Plan. 2