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NextGen implementation will benefit airports

Posted: 11 April 2011 | Dr. Michael C. Romanowski, Director, NextGen Integration and Implementation, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) | No comments yet

Implementation of the United States’ Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is a highly orchestrated initiative, requiring close collaboration with the aviation community. By leveraging a strategy of incremental implementation with our stakeholders, NextGen capabilities are already emerging, providing benefits to airports, aircraft operators and the travelling public today.

These benefits include improving the safety, reliability and efficiency of air transportation, while reducing aviation’s impact on our environment. Among these capabilities are airfield and surface improvements, including surface data sharing; performance-based navigation; and the deployment and operational use of automatic dependent surveillancebroadcast (ADS-B). The backbone of NextGen surveillance, ADS-B is now operational for air traffic control services in several locations across the US, with the full nationwide ADS-B deployment on track for 2013.

Implementation of the United States’ Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is a highly orchestrated initiative, requiring close collaboration with the aviation community. By leveraging a strategy of incremental implementation with our stakeholders, NextGen capabilities are already emerging, providing benefits to airports, aircraft operators and the travelling public today.These benefits include improving the safety, reliability and efficiency of air transportation, while reducing aviation’s impact on our environment. Among these capabilities are airfield and surface improvements, including surface data sharing; performance-based navigation; and the deployment and operational use of automatic dependent surveillancebroadcast (ADS-B). The backbone of NextGen surveillance, ADS-B is now operational for air traffic control services in several locations across the US, with the full nationwide ADS-B deployment on track for 2013.

Implementation of the United States’ Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is a highly orchestrated initiative, requiring close collaboration with the aviation community. By leveraging a strategy of incremental implementation with our stakeholders, NextGen capabilities are already emerging, providing benefits to airports, aircraft operators and the travelling public today.

These benefits include improving the safety, reliability and efficiency of air transportation, while reducing aviation’s impact on our environment. Among these capabilities are airfield and surface improvements, including surface data sharing; performance-based navigation; and the deployment and operational use of automatic dependent surveillancebroadcast (ADS-B). The backbone of NextGen surveillance, ADS-B is now operational for air traffic control services in several locations across the US, with the full nationwide ADS-B deployment on track for 2013.

The benefits delivered today will be compounded as we continue to deploy new NextGen capabilities. We estimate that by 2018, NextGen implementation will reduce total delays (in-flight and on the ground) by about 35%. In the process, approximately 1.5 billion gallons of aviation fuel will be saved during this period, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 14 million tonnes. All told, we expect that $23 billion in cumulative benefits will accrue to the traveling public, aircraft and airport operators, and the FAA.

Airports play a critical role in advancing NextGen. One key area for airports is surface traffic management. Leveraging airport surface movement data and enabling new surface traffic management tools will be powerful assets to increase both safety and efficiency. Over the past few years Airport Surface Detection Equipment-Model X (ASDE-X) systems have enabled air traffic controllers to detect potential runway conflicts by providing detailed understanding of aircraft movement on runways and taxiways. ASDE-X systems are installed at 32 of the 35 busiest U.S. airports, with installation expected at the remaining airports by the end of 2011. While originally installed for safety reasons, we have found that these systems can be leveraged for significant efficiency gains.

Demonstrations of surface movement information sharing using ASDE-X data at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Memphis International Airport in Tennessee showed average taxi-out time savings of 1.5 minutes to 4.3 minutes per flight. Based on this success the FAA has implemented a nationwide network to allow operators to tap into the surface data feeds from any ASDE-X airport using a single access point. This will allow us to dramatically extend the benefits of surface data sharing as operators tap into the network. But additional benefits are also underway: when we also enable operators to manage their own takeoff slot allocations, taxi-out times are improved an additional 50%. This forms a foundation for even greater collaborative decision making and integration of surface movement capabilities into the overall air traffic management framework.

An excellent example of applying collaborative NextGen surface movement concepts is illustrated by a joint effort that reduced congestion and delays during runway reconstruction this spring at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (which operates the airport), airlines and the FAA leveraged a collaborative departure queue management system to minimise the effects of the closure. When demand for departure slots exceeded supply, airport managers allocated slots to each airline in proportion to their percentage share of scheduled departures in each 15-minute interval. Operators then worked through the managers to trade slots based on their airline’s priorities. As a result critical flights are more likely to depart on time, while delayed aircraft at the gate until their new departure window. This increases predictability for passengers and operators alike; passengers can use airport services and aircraft no longer waste fuel idling on the taxiways. The initial results were so positive that although the runway is back in service, the collaboration remains in place to provide meaningful benefits to operators and passengers alike.

Improvements in the surrounding airspace and procedures will enable us to receive even greater use of our runway capacity. Satelliteenabled performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures, such as Area Navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) provide more direct time, and fuel saving arrival and departure routes, and offer the ability for airports in close proximity to operate much more independently. In addition, optimised profile descents (OPDs) allow aircraft to fly a more continuous descent path to runways, using low engine power settings, rather than leveling off in steps at higher power. The benefits are profound. For example, OPDs at Los Angeles International Airport are saving two to three million gallons of fuel per year.

Wide area augmentation system (WAAS) localiser performance with vertical guidance (LPV), another form of PBN, is providing increased safety and access, particularly for general aviation operators who often fly into small and medium-size airports. WAAS LPVs provide capabilities comparable to much more expensive Category 1 Instrument Landing Systems (ILSs). Over 2,300 LPV approaches are available at more than 1,200 airports, with nearly 1500 approaches to non-ILS runways.

Harnessing the full power of performancebased navigation is a primary objective as we transition to a ‘metroplex’ strategy to compound the benefits of individual PBN routes by optimising airspace and procedures for entire areas or regions in an integrated manner. This approach will unlock new efficiencies in areas where several busy airports operate in proximity, often with smaller general aviation airports in the vicinity. The FAA has launched metroplex initiatives with aviation stakeholders in North Texas and Washington, DC, and we will initiate work in Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, Northern and Southern California metroplexes in the near future.

The capabilities that have already been implemented in the NAS demonstrate that NextGen deployment is well under way. Together, in close collaboration with the aviation community around the globe, we will continue to move NextGen forward and bring us all closer to our goal of a safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly airspace system.

About the Author

Dr. Michael Romanowski is the Director of FAA’s NextGen Integration and Implementation office. His office ensures the application, planning, programming and budgeting of FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) portfolio, and manages its integration and execution across all FAA lines of business. His office is also responsible for FAA’s NextGen-related engagement with industry stakeholders. Before joining the FAA he served as Vice President of Civil Aviation at the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), where he headed all its activities on aviation issues and policy, including the areas of research and development, aviation infrastructure, and safety and security. He also served as the Director of Product Safety, Certification and Airworthiness at Sikorsky Aircraft with responsibilities spanning Sikorsky’s entire product line.

Before joining Sikorsky, he held a similar role at Pratt & Whitney where his responsibilities spanned all of Pratt & Whitney’s large commercial engines. He has broad experience in research, development, validation and fleet operations of jet engines.

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