Odds and Ends: FAA’s NextGen, B-52 at 50

FAA’s NextGen: This short piece analyzes the benefits of the FAA’s NextGen air traffic management system. A 36-page report is available here.A Washington (DC) think tank called Eno has a lot of stuff about NextGen, including a recent synopsis of a debate about the program and a You Tube link within the synopsis of the debate.

This is a much more balanced view of the benefits and shortfalls in FAA policy than one consultant who revels in criticism but offers no solutions. We recommend the constructive approach.

Alaska Airlines has implemented a piece of NextGen. Here is a New York Times article describing the effort.

B-52 turns 50: And that’s just the youngest one. DOD Buzz has this story about America’s venerable bomber.

Pass the FAA Reauthorization bill and move on to NextGen

Update, 310PM PST: The Senate voted to pass the Bill, 75-20. Now over to the White House, where labor urges a veto.

Original Post:

At long, long last, it looks like Congress is going to approve long-term funding for the Federal Aviation Administration. Included is funding for the Next Generation Air Traffic Management system.

This is the first time since 2007 the FAA will have some long-term funding. To say that this is about time is an understatement.

The US ATM is rooted in the 1960s. That it hasn’t been updated in these decades is a national scandal. Air traffic has increased many times over. Airlines continue to fly routings that do nothing but burn excess fuel, add costs and contribute to emissions.

While some claim NextGen will reduce delays–and given ground congestion at airports, which we consider a separate issue, we’re not sure this is will solve delays–we view NextGen as making flying more efficient. Continuous descents from cruising altitudes to landing will cut time and save fuel. En-route efficiencies will reduce costs to the airlines and be more environmentally friendly.

Airlines should welcome NextGen for these efficiencies. So should critics who do nothing but criticize NextGen and government dawdling (which certainly is valid criticism) but who otherwise offer nothing constructive to get the job done.

The House of Representatives has passed the FAA Reauthorization Act. The Senate should follow suit. And the President should sign the legislation. Airbus and Boeing consider improving ATM worldwide to be so important that they collaborate on ATM, setting aside their often bitter rivalries. The US should follow the Airbus-Boeing example. It’s time to put the national interests of bringing the FAA into the 21st Century above political interests. It’s time to move on.