Next Generation Air Transportation System: FAA Has Made Some Progress in Implementation, but Delays Threaten to Impact Costs and Benefits, Statement of Gerald L. Dillingham, Ph.D., Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues, Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Aviaition, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of Representatives   [open pdf - 198KB]

From the opening statement of Gerald L. Dillingham: "My statement today discusses (1) the results of NextGen programs and improvements to date and (2) ongoing issues that will affect NextGen implementation. This statement today is based on our NextGen-related reports and testimonies over the last 2 years; ongoing work for this subcommittee that includes our analysis of selected NextGen acquisitions and our analysis of FAA's [Federal Aviation Administration] efforts to harmonize NextGen with air traffic control modernization efforts in Europe; our review of FAA's 2025 Strategic Plan, 2011 NextGen Implementation Plan, 2012 Budget Submission, and other documents; and selected program updates from FAA officials. The GAO [Government Accountability Office] reports cited in this statement contain more detailed explanations of the methods used to conduct our work. We performed our work in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. In summary, FAA has improved its efforts to implement NextGen and is continuing its work to address critical issues that we, stakeholders, and others have identified over the years. In some areas, FAA has implemented NextGen capabilities that have demonstrated measurable benefits for system users, such as fuel savings. FAA has also made progress in streamlining its processes, improving its capacity to develop new flight procedures, and focusing its efforts on specific procedures that are needed in key metropolitan areas. Furthermore, we found that several NextGen-related acquisitions are generally on time and on budget. However, some acquisitions have been delayed, which has impacted the timelines of other dependent systems, and the potential exists for other acquisitions to also encounter delays. These delays have resulted in increased costs and reduced benefits. Going forward, FAA must focus on delivering systems and capabilities in a timely fashion to maintain its credibility with industry stakeholders, whose adoption of key technologies is crucial to NextGen's success. FAA must also continue to monitor how delays will affect international harmonization issues, focus on human factors issues, streamline environmental approvals, mitigate environmental impacts, and focus on improving management and governance."

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