Next Generation Air Transportation System Essay

Since the Wright brother’s first flight over Kitty Hawk 108 years ago, the accomplishments of the human race in aerospace have been nothing short of miraculous. The United States aerospace and aviation industry has developed into a crucial element of the global infrastructure. It is an industry that moves people and goods quickly and virtually anywhere in the world. However, aerospace and aviation is an industry at risk. While there may be a temporary pause given the current economy, the steady increase in air traffic will continue, increasing pressure on aircraft operations and Air Traffic Control.

Despite some improvements in efficiency, the air transportation system is still not managed as effectively as possible, resulting in delays that expand throughout the network. A safe, secure, and efficient air system is vital to U. S. prosperity and competitiveness in the global economy. Replacement of our 1960’s era system with the 21st century Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is essential. Next Generation Air Transportation System – An Introduction There are several ways of how NextGen will lead to advances in technology and more closely integrate aircraft into the system of the future.

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NextGen represents an all-encompassing transformation of the entire national air transportation system. It has become apparent that there are three main benefits to integrating NextGen. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) website for NextGen, the three main benefits in which they hope will meet future demands is to reduce aviation’s environmental footprint, decrease delays, and avoid gridlock in the sky and airports.

In order for NextGen to run smoothly there are several parts of the NextGen system that has to be put into effect that include ADS-B, (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) GPS, (Global Positioning System) and certain equipage that have to be installed in the Aircraft and in the air traffic control towers. The key is that NextGen will be moving current technology away from ground-based surveillance and navigation to new and more dynamic satellite-based systems and procedures, that introduces new technological innovations in areas such as weather forecast, digital communications, and networking.

With all this information we will be able to have a safer more reliable transportation system through the use of the Federal Aviation Administration. Going Green Going green in today’s society is one of the major issues our world faces today. In the Aviation world over busy airports, planes often circle decreasing their altitude, speeding up and slowing down to get into a proper landing sequence, this wastes fuel. The Federal Aviation Administration understands that there is a problem with the environmental impact aviation has on our atmosphere.

With the future of NextGen, the effect will be a substantial decrease in aviation’s environmental impact. Today’s big corporations are really striving to go green and if NextGen wants to last and economically prosper they are going to need to go green. Implementation Plan The “Implementation Plan” is a government article describing how NextGen along with other new technologies will enter the aviation world. It describes how NextGen is urgently needed because America’s air transportation system is stretched to the limit.

Federal government estimates suggest that the current system will reach full capacity by 2022. (FAA, 2010) Radar is rapidly becoming too slow for modern times, air traffic controllers see a new dot from planes on their scopes every six or seven seconds, to land and take off, the pilots depend on controllers who are talking to every plane in a stream of nonstop oral radio transmissions. This makes Air traffic control one of the most stressful jobs in the world. With NextGen many pilots and dispatchers will be able to select their own flight paths, rather than following the airways in the sky.

What permits this? Each airplane will have a special transponder that transmits and receives precise information about the time at which it and others will cross key points along their route. Additionally, pilots and air traffic managers on the ground will have the same precise information, transmitted via data communications, which creates a much faster process of getting the planes in and out of the airports. This also helps the air traffic control managers by being able to allow the airplanes closer to each other with out harming them.

These controllers will not have to use as much two-way communication neither because the information will automatically be transmitted via data communications. Therefore, the communication frequencies will be less busy and less stressful on the air traffic controllers. Which creates a much faster process of getting the planes in and out of airports. Once the planes have departed from their airport, the transponders along with the new GPS based technology that NextGen has included into the “Implementation Plan” may now choose more direct paths instead of using old traditional Navaid technology, such as Victor Airways to travel.

With GPS technology as part of the new system they are hoping it will cut down on the noise level of communication frequencies as well. Pilots will use GPS based technology for navigation, and radar will be the backup. The controllers will be there, but they will not be talking constantly, they will only talk when the pilots need help. Which will help the stress level lower immensely as well. Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast This system is one of the newest additions to the NextGen system. They have already put this part into effect over the Gulf of Mexico as of December 2009 and are having outstanding results.

It’s purpose is to make it possible for air traffic control services to be offered in an area of active airspace where surveillance has never before been possible by using Satellite-based Aircraft Tracking Systems. Weather Not only will NextGen be able to get people from place to place quicker, they are saying it will cut down on delays due to the NextGen Network Enabled Weather component of the new system. Weather is such an important factor in the aviation world. The satellite-based control system will provide a common weather picture across he national airspace system, which will be integrated into the other key components of NextGen required to enable better air transportation decision-making, and to improve weather forecasts.

This will minimize airspace limitations and traffic restrictions. When the system minimizes, decrease in delays and increases in safety become two of the main benefits with NextGen. The FAA goes on to says that the United States air traffic system normally handles about 50,000 flights per day, and in the first half of 2008 more than 25 percent were either late or canceled. FAA, 2010) When it comes to the Nation’s busiest airports such as Chicago, New York, Dallas/Fort Worth, NextGen will provide capabilities beyond belief in these areas. In the online article entitled “NextGen Benefits” the Federal Aviation Administration says, “Implementing NextGen through the 2018 mid-term will enable significant safety, environmental and operational improvements. ” (FAA Benefits, 2010) Cost To put this new transportation system into effect, the process obviously is going to cost money.

Through my research I have realized that the media and the FAA attempts to avoid this subject. What many corporations do not understand is that the FAA wants the NextGen system, but have no way to afford it for everyone, so they are relying on corporations such as Southwest Airlines to buy it themselves. Given the severe economic distress that our nation is currently facing, we obviously know that this is a tough time for the airlines; therefore it is going to be very difficult for the airlines to buy this equipment.

Based on my resources, the Government is not going to help supply equipage for the system anytime soon. However, the FAA still believes that investing in NextGen equipage will pay off in the end by saving money that the airlines would not have to spend while still being eco friendly and safer. The Future With this information there is always the argument that equipping aircrafts would benefit the FAA and the National Airspace System more than the airlines. If this is the case, there is always the argument to be made or using the taxpayer’s money. If the government is going to use taxpayer’s money they could take it out of our income taxes to help pay for this system, or even raise the tax when one purchases an airline ticket. Therefore, there are ways to make this affordable for everyone. In my professional opinion due to the financial concerns of NextGen, it is going to take years, if not decades to install the full program. Because it is so costly general aviation planes will never be able to afford the equipage with out the government’s help.

If this process is going to go into effect, taxpayer dollars will have to be used. As of now though, something has to be done before our nation’s skies become too crowded. If NextGen is not implemented, the FAA website estimates, a $22 billion dollar loss to the U. S. Economy annually, and that number grows to $40 billion by 2033 if the transportation system is not transformed. (FAA, 2010) With this information, it confirms that we do need the Next Generation Air Transportation System, in which will have a lasting effect on are generation and the next generation to come.