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NextGen is coming

January 29, 2013, 12:06 pm

Although the Next Generation Air Transportation System is over budget and behind schedule, pilots need to become familiar with it because its implementation is inevitable and already underway. 

According to Federal Aviation Administration officials, seven new ADS-B radio stations have been added since October, bringing the total to 438. The ADS-B technology provides the position of an aircraft with new equipment through satellites that will help controllers reduce air traffic. The technology will replace old grou​nd-based radar systems and allow pilots and controllers to use global positioning systems to help planes take more efficient routes. It is believed that the system will reduce air traffic by as much as 10 percent once fully implemented, even with increased traffic during that time. 

At the end of last year the FAA and Colorado Department of Transportation installed the NextGen technology called Wide Area Multilateration for the Montrose Regional Airport in Colorado. As the airport is surrounded by mountainous terrain, it is now easier to locate the aircraft with the NextGen technology, instead of radar which was often unreliable in the area. 

The FAA officially committed to moving forward with ADS-B as the future for the NextGen program, and with the recent appointing of Michael Huerta as the head of the FAA by the Sentate, it would appear the system will be more streamlined moving forward. Craig Fuller, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, commended the Senate for its decision. 

“Michael Huerta is well-qualified to manage the monumental changes taking place in the FAA airspace, navigation, air traffic control and safety programs that directly impact general aviation,” said Fuller. “As acting FAA administrator he's been a big part of these changes so far, and the general aviation community should be heartened that his confirmation is finally poised to move forward.”

Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, also extended praise for the decision. 

"We look forward to continuing our work with him on such critical issues as improving certification processes and practices globally, advancing NextGen and ensuring compatibility with SESAR (European airspace modernization), and furthering critical investments in general aviation safety and infrastructure," Bunce said. "Much progress has been made under Mr. Huerta's direction and the general aviation industry looks forward to working with him to achieve much more in the future."

While pilot's are encouraged to become familiar with the NextGen system, it is also important that they obtain pilot life insurance before flying. 

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