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Adam Rhodes (I90) is the National NextGen Representative for NATCA.      

Background:  Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is the modernization of America’s air transportation system to make flying safer, more efficient, and more predictable.  NextGen is not one technology product or goal but it is an effort to transform technologies being developed and implemented after thorough testing for safety.    

Remote Towers  

Northern Colorado Regional (FNL)  

Shawn Reuth is the FNL Article 114 Remote Tower Representative.   

No change from previous report.  

Leesburg Executive (JYO)  

Kieron Heflin is the JYO Article 114 Remote Tower Representative.      

No change from previous report.   

International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF)  

NATCA participated in a third international telcon on May 29th, 2020 and provided input to the ITF regarding a draft international remote tower paper.  ITF is working to align the international air traffic control communities’ interests regarding remote towers.  

Operational Safety Assessment (OSA) for Remote Towers  

NATCA participated in two OSAs for Remote Towers.  The purpose of the OSAs are to define requirements for Remote Towers.  Remote Towers will be non-federal systems and it is important that we develop necessary requirements for these systems to ensure any vendor that chooses to design, build, and sell a Remote Tower does it in accordance with standardized requirements.  

Improving Weather Information on STARS  

NATCA participated in regularly scheduled weekly meetings to address improving the display of precipitation on STARS.  The focus over the last month was to identify the current shortfalls that we see in the operation today regarding the display of precipitation.  We are finalizing the list of shortfalls with the FAA and from there we will look to identify other weather sources that could potentially address these shortfalls.    

FAA Tech Center  

NATCA participated in a meeting with the Manager and her team of the FAA Tech Center Testing and Evaluations Division.  This was a follow-on meeting from the Spring to ensure the labs and equipment at the Tech Center are being coordinated among the programs and the needs of each program are being adequately addressed and met.    

Minimum Capabilities List (MCL)  

NATCA participated in the MCL Workgroup Meeting on May 11th and May 19th, 2020 with the FAA and industry stakeholders.  Mixed equipage continues to be a problem in realizing NextGen benefits throughout the NAS.  Besides the ADS-B out mandate (effective Jan 2020), there is no effort from the FAA to mandate equipage for aircraft.  In October of 2019, the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC) was formerly tasked to:  provide a collaborative analysis of current fleet equipage with respect to the MCL capabilities, socialization of the MCL with additional stakeholder groups, including aircraft and equipment manufacturers and regional airlines not involved in discussions to-date, and recommendations on steps to encourage MCL adoption and commitments to equip aircraft with the associated capabilities.  The objective of the NAC is to provide independent advice and recommendations to the FAA and to respond to specific taskings received directly from the FAA.  The advice, recommendations, and taskings relate to concepts, requirements, operational capabilities, the associated use of technology, and related considerations to operations that affect the future of the Air Traffic Management System and the integration of new technologies.  In addition, the NAC recommends consensus-driven standards for FAA consideration relating to Air Traffic Management System modernization, which the FAA may adopt.  NATCA will continue to participate in these meetings to finalize the MCL.  

Four-Dimensional Trajectory (4DT)  

The purpose of this demonstration will be to deliver future 4-dimensional clearances to the flight deck via DataComm.  Though the capability within DataComm to deliver these types of clearances does not currently exist, the test will supplement this with clearances delivered to the Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) in the flight deck to simulate what a future DataComm could look like.  The clearances delivered to the flight deck will involve negotiations with the Flight Deck, AOC, TMU, Command Center, and will present a potential route that has been vetted through all that would be displayed for the controller to execute if practical.     

NATCA participated in a Special Topics Meetings (STMs) in May to finalize the live flight route and address any additional ATC constraints and concerns.  The route was discussed with appropriate Facility Technical Representatives (FTRs), Ray Berndt (NATCA Art 114 DataComm Rep), Rex Jackson (NATCA Art 114 ERAM Rep), Boeing, the FAA, and other appropriate stakeholders.  This demonstration is scheduled to take place in August of 2020.  

Over the next month, NATCA will be working with the FAA, Boeing, and other contract support to developing briefing items for appropriate facilities as well as providing input to the Safety Risk Management Document.   

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