The key to best capable, best served is transparency, Ky says, adding that everything must be “completely explainable. We want to get rid of that first come, first served principle.”
Industry must also stress the benefits that are universal from NextGen, from capacity improvements and efficiency and fuel savings to environmental benefits, Bolen says.
The NextGen debate must include all industry leaders, says FAA’s Cox. “The better everyone understands, the more ready FAA will be able to make that hard policy decision,” she says.
For the operators though, building a business case is extremely complex. Michael Dyment, managing director and CEO of NEXA Capital Partners, notes that it may take five-six years to retrofit a fleet for NextGen capabilities, but benefits may be fully realized until later in the decade. “It makes the business case a bit of a nightmare,” he says.
Airlines have a pretty good grasp of what benefits they can squeeze out of NextGen, Dyment says. “They can control the rate of equipage.” They can’t control what other airlines are doing and what FAA would be able to deliver, he says.
FAA acting Administrator Michael Huerta agrees that “NextGen’s success will be a function of how effectively government and industry and all the stakeholders in aviation can relate with one another.”
Dave Barger, president and CEO of JetBlue Airways, who is chairman of the NextGen Advisory Committee, agrees, saying the issue becomes how committed government and industry are “even if most of us are not the immediate beneficiary of being first. We all are in this together. Today’s NextGen is not the endgame.”