NATCA Supports NextGen Modernization Projects, Recognizes Collaboration As Key to Success
Thursday, September 13, 2012

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi affirmed the organization’s full support for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) modernization projects, and emphasized stakeholder collaboration before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 12.

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi

NextGen modernization projects will allow the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to meet increased demand while improving the safety of the National Airspace System (NAS), reducing delays and protecting the environment. Rinaldi said NATCA has professional air traffic controllers involved in nearly every modernization and NextGen-related program on which the FAA is working. He stressed that stakeholder involvement and collaboration is crucial to the success of NextGen.

“NextGen will transform the national air transportation system, and collaboration is the key to a successful transformation,” said Rinaldi. “Because of current collaboration efforts among industry leaders and stakeholders, NextGen is moving forward in many areas. ”

Rinaldi also discussed the importance of involving system users in every step of the process. As an example, he referred to the initial deployment failure of En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM), which was not tested by air traffic controllers.

“If you’re going to build a system for air traffic controllers, you need air traffic controllers involved,” he said.

Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari and FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta also testified, along with several other aviation industry leaders. Porcari and Huerta also discussed the importance of including stakeholders in NextGen program decisions. Porcari said that the collaborative effort is working, as there is now a much greater level of confidence in the trajectory of NextGen than there was even just a couple of years ago, much in part to involvement of the workforce.

NATCA makes several recommendations to expedite the process of NextGen projects, including a continued focus on collaboration and stakeholder involvement in order to reach realistic deadlines, and streamlining the FAA rule-making process to better implement the new efficiencies being developed by OAPM.

Rinaldi’s full written testimony to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, on the subject of “A Review of and Update on the Management of FAA’s NextGen Program,” is available here.

The video of the hearing is available here.

Other highlights from Rinaldi’s testimony:

- “NATCA is proud to be involved in all aspects of the process as an essential stakeholder…In addition to being present on NextGen projects, NATCA is represented as a member of the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA), the FAA Management Advisory Council (MAC) and the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC). Our presence, as well as that of industry leaders, has been an important addition to the discussion on modernization.”

-“The progress we are achieving is due to the success of our collaborative relationship with the FAA. For three years now, we have put an enormous amount of effort into collaboration. This administration greatly values the expertise of its front-line workforce. We have approached our responsibility as a collaborative partner with three objectives: Make it safe. Make it better. Make it work.”

- “OAPM is already yielding positive results. For example, the Atlanta team found savings by re-working existing routes, saving airlines as much as $22 million annually in reduced fuel consumption.”