Challenges With Implementing Near-Term NextGen Capabilities at Congested Airports Could Delay Benefits
On August 1, 2012, we issued a report on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) implementation of near-term capabilities for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). Our audit focused on FAA’s actions in response to recommendations from a government-industry Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) task force on accelerating NextGen deployment, especially FAA’s “metroplex” initiative to improve airspace efficiency at large, congested metropolitan airports. We found that while FAA quickly incorporated the task force’s recommendations into its NextGen strategic plans and budgets, its efforts are delayed in key areas, including its critical metroplex initiative. Moreover, industry is concerned that the initiative does not yet include other related task force recommendations, such as better managing surface operations, and may not deliver all desired benefits.
In addition, FAA has not yet resolved many of the barriers that will impede implementation of the task force recommendations, such as streamlining the process for deploying new flight procedures and training controllers on advanced procedures. We made seven recommendations to FAA to improve its implementation of the task force recommendations. However, FAA’s response did not meet the intent of four of our recommendations, and we are requesting additional information from the Agency.