JPDO and ATO Center Stage for
House Panel Hearing
How the FAA's Air Traffic Organization (ATO) and the Joint Planning and Development Office will
work together to create the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS) was the focus of an
April 14th hearing before the House Aviation Subcommittee.
In his opening statement, Chairman John Mica (R-FL) described an air transportation system coming
under increasing stress: "The system, in its current configuration, is reaching maximum capacity. I
predict that clogged airspace, bad weather and systems outages will create massive delays and
backups throughout the system this summer and may be routine in the future."
Jeffrey Shane, Under Secretary for Policy for the Department of Transportation, testified that
there is "no doubt that we must do something important and dramatic. The Next Generation System is
that important initiative."
He went on to say that the NGATS is "unprecedented in its scope, complexity and the challenges it
will face. Far from being a turn-key operation, it will require years of hard work, managing risk
and unparalleled coordination among the many federal agencies and stakeholders involved. The process
has now begun in earnest, however, and by aligning our resources and activities through the JPDO, I
am confident we will succeed."
Speaking to the Subcommittee Membership, Under Secretary Shane gave a quick sense of the vision
behind the NGATS. "Remember the best day you flew. That's what we want to achieve for every
traveler, every day."
He also underscored the need for a predicable funding stream pointing to a MITRE study that found
that historically, as much as 50% of program costs can be attributed to budget instability. However,
the Under Secretary also told the panel that with $1.5 billion spread throughout government for
aviation research, there are real savings opportunities and for getting a "bigger bang" for every
Russ Chew, Chief Operating Officer for the ATO, spoke to the improvements being made to current
system through the FAA's Flight Plan and Operational Evolution Plan. He also pointed to the
reorganization of the ATO - one of the largest ever undertaken in government. "The 36,000 member ATO
workforce was realigned to become a more customer-focused, bottom-line business designed to respond
to the needs of our customers and stakeholders and to improve our fiscal accountability," he
DOT Inspector General Ken Mead confirmed the urgency of the challenges that lay ahead. "First,
air traffic is on the rise... By 2015, FAA estimates that one billion passengers will board planes
Mr. Mead also pointed to the enormous changes that are coming and their impact on the nation's
air transportation system. "On the horizon, there is an emerging issue that could have tremendous
repercussions on air traffic levels-micro-jets (relatively inexpensive aircraft that seat 4 to 6
people). FAA estimates that a 2 percent shift of today's commercial passengers to micro-jets would
result in triple the number of flights," he said.
Gerald Dillingham, GAO's Director of Civil Aviation Issues, pointed to the relationship between
the ATO and the JPDO: "As key organizations for determining how to safely accommodate projected
increases in air traffic demand, the ATO and the JPDO are distinct yet complementary." Dr.
Dillingham also testified that the "ATO will be challenged to harness the efforts of the diverse
agencies that participate in the JPDO."
John W. Douglass, President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association of America testified
that, "America's world aviation leadership remains critically important to our prosperity in the age
of the information economy and our public safety in the era of trans-national terrorism. AIA
therefore congratulates the Subcommittee for its leadership in creating the JPDO and encourages
Congress to take the subsequent policy and funding steps necessary to sustain the organization's air
systems modernization efforts."
Also testifying at the hearing were the Presidents of the National Air Traffic Controllers
Association and the Professional Airways Systems Specialists. The complete testimony can be viewed
Air Taxi Concept Flying FASTER
Just because your town has an airport doesn't mean you can easily or inexpensively take a flight
the next time you want to travel. In fact, you probably will drive your car to the nearest
metropolitan airport - or simply drive all the way to your destination.
But what if every airport could offer most of the services comparable to today's major airports?
What if it was as easy, affordable and safe to fly from Buffalo to Watertown as it is now to fly
from New York to Cleveland?
The Next Generation Air Transportation System sees that as the future. And so does FASTER.
FASTER - Frequent and Safe Transportation from Ever Runway - is a consortium of air tax
companies, small airport service suppliers, and Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS)
laboratories. The consortium is united to identify and overcome the many barriers smaller airports
and air taxi services face, including regulatory and policy issues. Presently heading the FASTER
effort are three members of the SATS Strategic Council, an advisory body to the SATS project.
The FASTER vision is for a system that allows travelers to make flight reservations over the
Internet with a network of air taxi companies, ready and available to take them wherever they want
to go. The price would be reasonable, while safety and security standards would remain as high as
they are today.
FASTER grew out of the SATS project, a NASA Airspace Systems Program. Working with the National
Consortium for Aviation Mobility, a non-profit organization that integrates and coordinates the
technical aspects of small aircraft development, SATS is responsible for research, development,
integration, evaluation, and demonstration of four operating capabilities and the enabling
technologies critical in enhancing the accessibility of small aircraft to the many small
underutilized airports in the US in near all-weather conditions.
The five-year SATS program is ending this year, culminating in the SATS 2005 demonstration event
in Danville, Virginia from June 5th to 7th.
But that doesn't mean we won't hear more about air taxi services. One startup that shares the
on-demand air taxi vision is Pogo, a company chaired by Robert Crandall, the former American
Airlines CEO. The company has announced that it plans to begin operations in the third quarter of
Pogo plans to operate eventually 400 to 500 aircraft of the very light jet class, starting in the
U.S. northeast. That region has 600 to 800 small, under-utilized airfields.
John Olcott pointed out that the payback for air taxi services isn't only for travelers or
aviation companies - it's for entire communities that would benefit economically from regular,
reliable air transportation service. "There is an enormous amount of work to do," he said, "but much
For more information about FASTER, contact .
The Aviation Forecast is In and the Numbers Are Out:
We Need Transformation
Giving a "sneak peek" into its annual aviation forecast, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said
that "we fully expect aviation activity to escalate during the [12-year] forecast period with
passengers totals exceeding one billion by 2015." Speaking before the RTCA Annual Forum on "Global
Relationships", the Administrator said that within the context of the present system, the forecast
metrics present enormous challenges and risks.
RTCA, Inc. is a private, not-for-profit corporation that develops consensus-based recommendations
regarding communications, navigation, surveillance, and air traffic management. It also functions as
a Federal Advisory Committee.
Administrator Blakey noted that the current system cannot accommodate such huge new demand and
was never designed to handle the projected new mix of air traffic in our skies. The Administrator
argued that a two-pronged approach was necessary:
"In the short-term, we can pour more concrete for runways and redesign airspace. But I think
we'd all agree that in the long-term, we must transform our air transportation system from the
ground up - even into space... And that's why we have embarked to create the Next Generation Air
Transportation System - to meet the growing demand for air service and the dramatic changes ahead in
the way we fly. And that's also why we're aligning all of our activities and plans, including the
Flight Plan and Operational Evolution Plan, to the Next Generation System plan."
The Administrator also discussed the President's proposed FY 06 budget for the FAA, which triples
funding for the JPDO, and the role of federal advisory committees, such as the RTCA in the
transformation process: "Let me stress in the strongest possible terms that RTCA will continue to
play a strong advisory role for the Next Generation System. We need you at the table. RTCA can be
counted on to make a difference."
The FAA Administrator wrapped up her remarks by discussing the agency's efforts in the
international arena and the importance of global relationships and partnerships. She said that
global standards will also figure largely in the building of the Next Generation System and that the
imperative is clear: "We have to work together both domestically and internationally - from both a
safety and cost-savings perspective. And we are committed to building a global system in which we
can all operate. The lesson of these efforts, the lesson of RTCA and the lesson of the JPDO is that
good things happen when great minds come together. I'm looking at them"
The full text of Administrator Blakey's speech can be found at
Transportation and Tourism Representatives Briefed on NGATS
Department of Transportation Under Secretary Jeffrey Shane put it well at the Travel Industry
Association meeting in Washington, DC on April 12: it's big. Really, really big.
He was referring to the travel and tourism industry in the United States, which will generate
$653 billion in 2006 - five percent of the real GDP.
Needless to say, aviation plays a major role in travel and tourism. Shane briefed the group's
Travel and Tourism Coalition on the Next Generation Air Transportation System.
"Last summer's flight delays and cancellations at O'Hare are a warning," he said. "There are more
just waiting to happen. Think Dallas. Think Atlanta. Think New York. Think even Dulles. Gridlock in
the skies is a real possibility that could cause great damage to such an important industry as
Joint Planning and Development Office Communications Director followed up the Under Secretary's
remarks by encouraging the participants, whose organizations representing virtually every aspect of
travel and transportation, to get involved in building the Next Generation Air Transportation System.
"Over the next three years, we will move from planning to actual implementation," he said.
"Achieving these outcomes require that all of us pull in the same direction."