NextGen in Middle of Congressional Debate
October 6, 2011 – Delays in FAA’s NextGen air traffic control system is causing some congressmen to express concern about continued full funding of its development.
The satellite-based system would eventually replace radar for air traffic control by 2020 nationwide. It is scheduled to begin operations at the nation’s busiest airports by 2014. The estimated cost of the system is approximately $22 billion.
The dilemma arose in front of the House Aviation Subcommittee on Wednesday when some lawmakers asked whether delays in NextGen are causing funds to be wasted in its development.
“How can we invest in something when a report of the [DOT Inspector General] says the FAA has not approved total cost, schedule, or performance baseline for any of NextGen's transformal programs nor developed a ... schedule for executing NextGen?” asked Rep. Chris Cravaack (R-MN), as reported in The Hill.
Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL) said that simply adding more funding to NextGen is not the entire solution, but warned that further delays could take place if development funding is cut, making it tougher for FAA to succeed on time and on budget.
“My concern is, what happens when we add severe budget constraints on top of logistical program delays?” Costello said.
EAA is watching the NextGen system’s development, as the ADS-B portion of the system could have far-reaching financial effects on equipment required by some recreational aviators.