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Assessing the Research and Development Plan for the Next Generation Air Transportation System: Summary of a Workshop 1 Introduction THE NEXT GENERATION AIR TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM AND THE JOINT PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT OFFICE To meet the challenges faced by the U.S. aviation industry, airline passengers, aircraft pilots, airports, and airline companies as a result of unprecedented and increasing levels of use of the air transportation system, the federal government is planning for the development of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). 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 Enacted in 2003 by President George W. Bush and Congress under VISION 100 – Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act (P.L. 108-176), the NextGen initiative is being headed by the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO), which is responsible for managing a public-private partnership to bring NextGen online by 2025. The JPDO is the central organization that coordinates the specialized efforts of the Departments of Transportation, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce and the FAA, NASA, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. In 2006, the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) estimated that federal spending on NextGen from its initiation to 2025 will total between $15 billion and $22 billion.2 NextGen plans to utilize satellite navigation and controlfor example, the Global Positioning System (GPS). A key component of NextGen is the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B), which broadcasts aircraft position, altitude, velocity, and intent to other aircraft as well as controllers on the ground. NextGen will use digital nonvoice communication, advanced networking, and network-enabled and network-centric operation, both on the ground and in the air. The system will assimilate real-time weather information and provide broad-area precision navigation to enable shifting of decision making from ground controllers to pilots, and allow aircraft trajectory-based operations based on four-dimensional trajectories (which incorporate altitude, position, time, and other aircraft positions and vectors). NextGen is intended to permit higher-density aircraft and airport operations, while also reducing the environmental impact of operations ranging from those of aircraft in flight to those of airports. It will employ layered adaptive security to “help reduce the overall risk of a threat causing harm to the system.”3 1 See the JPDO Web site at http://www.jpdo.gov/nextgen.asp. Accessed May 15, 2008. 2 See the JPDO Web site at http://www.jpdo.gov/faq.asp#22. Accessed June 2, 2008. 3 See Eight Key Capabilities at http://www.jpdo.gov/key_capabilties.asp. Accessed May 16, 2008.
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Assessing the Research and Development Plan for the Next Generation Air Transportation System: Summary of a Workshop Clearly, NextGen will require participation by federal, state, and local governments. Furthermore, NextGen “is not solely a government program. To ensure that industry plays a role at every stage of NextGen’s development, Congress directed steps to create a close relationship with private sector partners.”4 The JPDO has the task of facilitating NextGen activities, “to create and carry out an integrated plan for NextGen.”5 The JPDO is governed by a Senior Policy Committee and Board of Directors. The Senior Policy Committee is chaired by the Secretary of Transportation and staffed by senior representatives of each of the participating agencies. The Board of Directors also is staffed by senior representatives of the participating agencies. Within the JPDO, there are six division directors, with responsibilities in systems modeling and analysis, enterprise architecture and engineering, policy, portfolio management, partnership management, and business management. Within those divisions are several working groups, each of which represents a key technology needed to enable NextGen. These working groups are staffed with government officials and industry representatives. PURPOSE AND CONDUCT OF THE WORKSHOP In mid-2007, the National Research Council (NRC) was asked by the JPDO to organize a workshop to discuss the JPDO’s research and development (R&D) plan for NextGen. The NRC formed an ad hoc workshop organizing committee, chaired by John K. Lauber, under the auspices of the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB). The organizing committee’s statement of task is given in Appendix A. On February 15, 2008, the JPDO issued version 0.2 of its Integrated Working Plan (IWP), reflecting “the NextGen vision as defined by the concept of operations and the Enterprise Architecture.”6 The IWP serves “as a master planning document that presents a summary view of what is required to achieve the NextGen vision.” IWP version 0.2 is “a preliminary draft version of the final document to describe how NextGen will improve safety, security, mobility, efficiency, and capacity to transform the nation’s air transportation system. It will continually be refined and enhanced to reflect current priorities, budgets, and programs.”7 On April 1-2, 2008, a workshop was held at the National Academies’ Beckman Center to provide a forum for observations on the research and development aspects of the IWP. The agenda for the workshop is given in Appendix B. Workshop participants included staff and speakers from the JPDO, members of the workshop organizing committee, and invited guests from government, industry, and academia who were familiar with air traffic management issues. About 50 people attended; see Appendix C for a list of the participants. The workshop was not a consensus-building activity. This report is intended to summarize the main points made in the workshop’s discussions and to capture the related themes. It does not provide consensus findings or recommendations. The workshop provided an opportunity for the JPDO to present the R&D plans in the current IWP (version 0.2) and to solicit feedback on these plans from a broad audience. First on the agenda was an overview of the NextGen concept of operations, presented by Robert Pearce, deputy director of the JPDO, and Jay Merkle, chief architect, JPDO. Their overview was followed by a series of presentations by JPDO staff and working group members on the following topics: 4 See Next Generation Air Transportation System in Brief at http://www.jpdo.gov/library/In_Brief_2006.pdf. Accessed May 16, 2008. 5 See Frequently Asked Questions at http://www.jpdo.gov/faq.asp#3. Accessed May 16, 2008. 6 For the latest revision of the IWP, see http://www.jpdo.gov. In addition, the JPDO has published several pertinent reports: NextGen Business Case, version 1.0; Enterprise Architecture, version 2.0; NextGen Concept of Operations, version 2.0; NextGen Security Annex, version 2.0; Weather Concept of Operations; and 4D Weather Functional Requirements for NextGen. See http://www.jpdo.gov/library.asp. Accessed May 5, 2008. 7 For the latest revision of the IWP, see http://www.jpdo.gov.
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Assessing the Research and Development Plan for the Next Generation Air Transportation System: Summary of a Workshop 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; Network-centric infrastructure services and operations; and Layered adaptive security. To focus the discussion of the IWP R&D plan, the organizing committee sent several questions to the speakers prior to the workshop: What is the JPDO’s most significant research or technological challenge in this area? What are the most important R&D activities listed? Do the R&D activities form or fit into a structured, coherent program? Are there critical R&D activities missing? What are the R&D priorities in terms of timing, funding, efficiency, safety, importance, readiness, and so on? Are the R&D activities adequate, sufficient, or excessive in terms of achieving the JPDO objectives? Is the critical path to NextGen clear? The presentations (available on request from the ASEB office) were based on the R&D plans contained in the IWP and focused on a description of the concept of operation, the operational improvements to be offered by the technologies in that working group area, and the key enablers for implementation of these capabilities. Each of the nine workshop presentations was followed by a discussion. The issues raised during those discussions are summarized by topic area in Chapter 2. A general discussion followed the last presentation; at that time, workshop participants were given the opportunity to raise any issues they felt should be communicated to the JPDO. Specific observations made and questions raised by individual workshop participants are listed in Chapter 3.