FAA has released its response to the much-ballyhooed independent review of NextGen priorities that was undertaken last year. For those who may not remember, that review was hailed as refocusing NextGen on mid-term priorities. FAA and DOT promised to work the taskforce findings into their NextGen plan (while the taskforce had broad industry participation, it was created by FAA).
The full FAA response can be found here. Some of it is quite general, but there are some interesting new timetable details. FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt says these will be included in the agency’s updated NextGen implementation plan, which is due in early March.
I personally think the taskforce review highlighted a problem with the NextGen concept – nobody seems to know exactly what they want it to be. NextGen was originally supposed to be a vision of what the system would look like in 20 years time. Now, everyone wants it to focus on the shorter term. If the main focus is the next eight or nine years, then didn’t we already have plans for that timeframe? I think this relates to the well-established problem of everyone looking to NextGen to solve all our problems, from emissions to congestion. I know I’m very much in the minority view on this, but I really do think it would help the modernization effort if we stopped looking at it as the cure-all for everything.