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Nextgen Progress Report

Essay by   •  May 6, 2012  •  Case Study  •  640 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,439 Views

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"The Background Story"

NextGen, a brainchild of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has been taking major steps towards becoming operational in just the past year alone. Next Generation, or NextGen for short has been in the works since 2006 and won't be finished until about 2025. The program, when finished, will completely revamp the current Air Traffic Control system in the United States. The program will be able to handle the expected growth of the aviation industry which should occur within the next several years. Airport control towers and en-route centers will now be tracking air traffic via satellite instead the old radar method which became popular in World War II. That gives an idea of just how outdated our methods are. The task of transforming every airport in the country has a price tag of approximately $4.3 billion, and that's only for the next five years. In total, it's expected to cost anywhere between $15 billion and $22 billion. (FAA.gov/NextGen)

"How will this help us?"

The benefits of NextGen are extremely important to the aviation infrastructure and will keep it up and running for a great number of years. The implementation of the program will make air travel more predictable with less delays and flexibility in regards to the weather. Procedures will be changed to make flying more eco-friendly. Pilots will be flying more direct routes which cut down on fuel usage and can also lower noise levels in communities surrounding an airport. NextGen will be accommodating for any future changes in the method of flight such as lighter jets, unmanned aircraft and commercial space flights.

"Recent Advancements"

The FAA posts new satellite-based navigation procedures every eight weeks. These procedures are basically guidelines for how navigation will be conducted once the project is finished. Along with these procedures, the FAA publishes their progress at the end of each month.

In August of 2011, controllers in Minneapolis and St. Louis en-route centers implemented a part of NextGen that helps separate the aircraft. The tool, Automated Terminal Proximity Alert or ATPA, is expected to operational soon in many more control centers.

In September of 2011, Delta, US Airways and Southwest Airlines all began using new "Optimum Profile Descents (OPD)" procedures at Charleston International Airport. The goal of OPD procedures is to reduce noise, emissions and fuel cost. OPD's are also saving the United States Air Force millions of dollars in fuel cost mainly due to the more direct landing paths.

The above mentioned are only an extremely small percentage of the overall magnitude changes that have happened and will be happening over the next several years. Below is a diagram from FAA.gov from 2010 illustrating what changes had already taken

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