Causes of Delays to the FAA's NextGen Program
Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Subcommittee on Aviation
Hearing on Causes of Delays to the FAA’s NextGen Program
July 17, 2013
(Remarks as Prepared)
One of the priorities of this Subcommittee is to ensure that the U.S. maintains a modern, safe, and efficient civil aviation system now and into the future. Our current system simply cannot meet future air traffic demands. Over the last decade, the FAA has been developing and, more recently, implementing a program to meet these demands, known as NextGen.
Let me be clear, I support the NextGen program. I’m fortunate to represent the William J. Hughes Technical Center, the nation's premier aviation research, development, test, and evaluation facility, and the primary facility supporting NextGen, as well as many other aviation safety initiatives. I’ve seen firsthand the development of technologies at the Tech Center that are now deployed and in use in the National Airspace System.
These technologies, many of which contributed to the survival of so many passengers aboard Asiana Flight 214, are improving the safety and efficiency of the civil aviation system. That’s why I believe that the validation and testing of NextGen and other critical safety and modernization initiatives should continue to be conducted at the Tech Center.
However, I also know that there are serious concerns regarding the FAA’s ability to effectively and efficiently implement NextGen. I’ve heard that some “transformational” NextGen programs aren’t truly transformational, that the FAA will never make the tough decisions required to advance NextGen, and that nobody can really agree what NextGen is today or what it should be in 2025.
These concerns should not be downplayed, ignored, or outright dismissed. Whether or not you agree with them is irrelevant. We – taxpayers and airspace users – have invested billions of dollars in NextGen and it’s clear that billions more still need to be invested. Every concern should be acknowledged, reviewed, and properly addressed.
I also want to make clear that I’m not pointing the finger at any specific person for perceived or actual problems with NextGen, in particular Administrator Huerta. The NextGen program is a decade old and there are a lot of people that share the responsibility for any problems, including people within the FAA, the aviation industry, and Congress.
The Inspector General is here today to outline a number of problems with advancing NextGen that he and his inspectors and auditors have identified. I look forward to hearing his findings and recommendations. This report provides an opportunity for us all to hit the reset button and make sure we are headed in the right direction, in the most efficient and effective way, and with the best outcome. We have to plan appropriately, in particular with the upcoming budget constraints.
I expect DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, Administrator Huerta, Deputy Administrator Mike Whitaker, and industry stakeholders to work together to get the program back on track. Most of you should know by now that my door is always open, and if there is anything I can do to help please don’t hesitate to ask.
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Hon. Michael P. Huerta, Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration | Written Testimony
Hon. Calvin L. Scovel III, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation | Written Testimony