NextGen Counting on Operators to Re-equip

According to the FAA's latest release on NextGen, implementation of the next steps to air traffic modernization will rely at least in part on aircraft operators to shoulder the expense of new onboard equipment. Listed among the primary "Challenges to Implementing NextGen" was the following: "NextGen's increasing dependency on aircraft-centric capabilities means that we must rely on operators' willingness to equip. We will not see real performance improvements until operators are properly equipped to reap the benefits of those capabilities."

Among the expected benefits of upgrading the airway system are, by 2018: airline flight delays reduced by 21 percent (saving the public, aircraft operators and the FAA an estimated $22 billion cumulatively); savings of more than 1.4 billion gallons of fuel due to more efficient air traffic; savings of nearly 14 million tons of carbon emissions.

The report cited the December 2009 implementation of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) in the Gulf of Mexico as "an important step forward."