For the first time in 8 years, both the house and the Senate have passed a new long-term funding bill. The Travel Detective looks at the legislation to find out what exactly we’re funding and when, if ever, fliers will see the impact of NextGen and other programs.
After years and years of delays and inaction, Congress actually accomplished the nearly impossible this week. It passed the new FAA authorization bill. Should you be happy about this?
In theory, yes. The legislation authorizes $63.3 billion for FAA programs through the year 2015 so the air traffic system will keep running. Finally, the bill included $11 billion in funding for the FAA’s “NextGen” development, which breaks down to about $1 billion a year in funding as has been the case for the last two years.
The NextGen plans includes a much needed precision navigation systems being installed at the nation’s busiest 35 airports with the rest of the country to follow along. Instead of relying on the old air traffic control system that is based on World War II technology, we’re finally building in GPS technology.
For pilots, this means that they have more precise information about the locations of planes and other obstacles so that their planes can land and take off closer together regardless of the weather. Plus, if the FAA has their way, planes will also be equipped with on board satellite technology that updates the location of planes every second instead of radar’s every six to 12 seconds.
What does this mean to you? According to the FAA, the installation and operation of this equipment will mean a 20 percent reduction in flight delays.
Now, let’s put this in perspective. NextGen carries with it a certain amount of irony. It won’t be installed until 2015 at the earliest, and if history is any indication, by the time it’s up and running it will be LAST GEN.
To make matters worse, the FAA’s prediction of reducing flight delays by 20 percent sounds great, until you dig a little deeper and discover that predicted reduction doesn’t happen until…2018!
Let’s hear it for NextGen. I suppose it’s better than nothing, and for many of us, when it finally kicks in, we can read about it from our reserved seat in…assisted living, because by then, many of us will actually be in the next gen.
Do you think NextGen will be a game-changer or will it be outdate by the time it’s implemented?
For more information, check out:
- Aviation Consultant Michael Boyd on NextGen and the Future of Flying
- our news coverage of This Summer’s FAA Shutdown
- FAA Shutdown to End the Airline Tax Holiday
- previous NextGen and FAA coverage
By Peter Greenberg for Peter Greenberg.com