Subcommittee Holds NextGen "Listening Session"

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Aviation held a listening session titled, "Challenges with Using NextGen Air Traffic Control Procedures". The bipartisan session, which took place on May 22 from 9-11 am EDT, was organized by Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) and Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-WA).

House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) attended most of the session as did several members of the Subcommittee on Aviation (see full list of Subcommittee attendees below).

The session featured seven panelists, including ACI-NA's Vice President of Safety & Regulatory Affairs, Chris Oswald.

The other panelists were:

  • Dan Elwell, Senior Vice President, Safety, Security & Operations, Airlines for America
  • Dale Wright, Director, Safety & Technology, National Air Traffic Controllers Association
  • Margaret Jenny, President, RTCA
  • Paul Fontaine, Director, NextGen Office of Advanced Concepts and Technology, FAA
  • Lynn Ray, Vice President, Mission Support Services, FAA

The purpose of the listening session was to "have a candid conversation on the issues related to utilizing performance-based navigation (PBN) [flight] procedures."

In the session, Oswald discussed the need for airports to be involved in PBN procedure design from start to finish as well as the unique role that airports play with the communities they serve. He cited early and frequent coordination among the FAA, airports, and aircraft operators as hallmarks of several successful PBN implementation efforts, including the "Greener Skies" initiative in Seattle.  He also pointed out that, although many PBN procedure implementation efforts have provided benefits to the airlines and other aircraft operators in the form of reduced fuel consumption and associated operating costs, significant work remains before these procedures begin providing meaningful capacity and delay reduction benefits. To obtain the broader benefits, Oswald noted that additional work was needed in the areas of air traffic automation systems and air traffic separation standards.

Other participants noted that "mixed equipage"—the fact that some aircraft can use PBN procedures and others cannot—poses a significant challenge to PBN utilization in many locations. There was also considerable discussion about the challenges of training both pilots and air traffic controllers in the use of PBN procedures.

Oswald and other participants mentioned that uncertainties from sequestration exacerbate PBN utilization challenges by reducing available resources for NextGen research, development, procedure design, and implementation. Oswald urged Chairman LoBiondo and Ranking Member Larson to work to ensure that critical aviation programs—including NextGen and the Airport Improvement Program—are fully funded in FY2014.

The Subcommittee plans to hold a follow-up discussion later this summer.

Subcommittee on Aviation Attendees

Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Rick Larsen (D-WA)
Bill Shuster (R-PA)
Larry Buschon (R-IN)
Michael Capuano (D-MA)
Rodney Davis (R-IL)
Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)
Thomas Petri (R-WI)
Daniel Webster (R-FL)

​ACI-NA Contacts: George Kelemen (gkelemen@aci-na.org) or Chris Oswald (coswald@aci-na.org).