Whitaker: international compatibility key to NextGen success

A key to rolling out the Federal Aviation Administration’s satellite-based Next Generation Air Traffic Management System — NextGen — will be making sure the technologies are compatible internationally, FAA Deputy Administrator Michael G. Whitaker told a capacity audience at yesterday's fourth annual IALI/Chaddick Lunch Lecture, held at DePaul University College of Law.
Whitaker, who serves as the FAA's chief NextGen officer, discussed the ongoing talks between U.S. and European Union authorities to assure compatibility between NextGen and the EU version, known as SESAR. Compatibility of U.S. and EU air traffic management systems likely would guarantee buy-in from aviation authorities in Asia and elsewhere, and provide relatively seamless satellite-based air traffic control worldwide, he added.
Whitaker emphasized NextGen's ability to significantly reduce aircraft fuel consumption by enabling planes to make more gradual descents from greater distances, which allows the engines to run at idle during the longer landing approaches. This also results in less aircraft noise near airports.

According to Whitaker, Next Gen is roughly five years into a 20-year rollout plan, and is moving along on schedule. Full implementation of NextGen would have speeded the FAA's ability to recover air traffic handling capacity recovery following the attack last month on the In-Flight center in Aurora, Ill., although the existing system enabled 90 percent recovery in a matter of days, Whitaker noted.
Hosted by the International Aviation Law Institute at DePaul’s College of Law and the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the annual IALI/Chaddick Lunch Lecture features a high-profile figure in civil aviation and an audience of prominent attorneys, urban planners, industry and government representatives, and DePaul law and urban planning students. (Photo by Carol Hughes)