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Challenges in Meeting FAA’s Long-Term Goals for the Next Generation Air Transportation System

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On April 21, 2010, the Inspector General testified before the House Subcommittee on Aviation on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) progress in developing the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).   The Inspector General noted significant challenges FAA must overcome to achieve its long-term goals for NextGen.  Central to this effort is the successful implementation of ongoing modernization projects that will provide platforms for new NextGen capabilities for enhancing capacity.  However, key multibillion-dollar programs have experienced problems, and FAA has yet to fully determine their NextGen-specific requirements. These include the $2.1 billion En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) program. Delays with this and other projects will have a cascading effect on NextGen plans now and well into the future. One critical step to avoid risks with NextGen’s cost, schedule, and capabilities is addressing gaps in partner agencies’ research and development efforts and long-term budgets and plans.  The Inspector General noted several actions FAA can take now to strengthen the multi-agency approach, better leverage Federal research projects, and prevent duplicative implementation efforts.