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Progress and Challenges in Meeting Expectations for NextGen

Testimony before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security
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The Assistant Inspector General for Aviation Audits testified on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) progress and challenges in developing the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). He stated that while FAA has implemented or is on target to implement more than half of the 24 NextGen-related provisions in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, the Agency has yet to meet provisions intended to accelerate the development of critical NextGen technologies. The Assistant Inspector General noted that FAA’s inability to meet these provisions and deliver NextGen capabilities is due to underlying programmatic challenges, such as the lack of an executable plan, unresolved technical issues, and ineffective collaboration with industry. In addition, he stated that FAA remains in the early stages of responding to recommendations about NextGen priorities that were made by the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC) in September 2013. Consistent with our work, the NAC confirmed the importance of performance-based navigation (PBN). However, obstacles such as a lack of updated controller policies and procedures make it uncertain when users can expect PBN benefits. Finally, the Assistant Inspector General stated that FAA continues to face technical, cost, and schedule risks with its efforts to modernize or replace air traffic control automation systems that are fundamental to achieving NextGen benefits.