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Update on FAA’s Progress and Challenges in Advancing the Next Generation Air Transportation System

On September 12, 2012, the Inspector General testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation regarding the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) progress and challenges in advancing the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).  The Inspector General identified three key challenges that continue to impact FAA’s ability to realize NextGen’s benefits:  (1) implementing NextGen capabilities at congested airports; (2) resolving technical and program management problems with the En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) program; and (3) managing program costs and schedules in developing and implementing NextGen’s transformational programs.  The Inspector General noted that FAA has made progress in improving air traffic management at congested airports in major cities through its metroplex initiative.  However, critical work remains, and the Agency has not yet fully resolved key barriers to implementing NextGen capabilities in the near term. In addition, extensive software-related problems have caused cost increases and schedule delays for FAA’s critical, multibillion dollar ERAM program— exposing significant programmatic and contract management issues.  Finally, the Inspector General noted that FAA has not approved total cost, schedule, or performance baselines for any of NextGen’s transformational programs or developed an integrated master schedule for managing NextGen.