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March 2005


How Do We Get Involved?
Administrator Blakey Discusses the NGATS Institute, Future Efforts

M Blakey

Since Transportation Secretary Mineta and Federal Aviation Administrator Marion C. Blakey delivered the Integrated National Plan to Congress last December, the question among stakeholders has been: how do we get involved?

The answer came at a gathering of executives at a meeting of the Aerospace Industries Association, where Administrator Blakey unveiled the Next Generation Air Transportation Institute.

"Given the JPDO's unique structure and mission and the Administration's commitment to develop innovative public-private partnerships, we are employing a blend of traditional and non-traditional mechanisms to help foster and expand our 'engage and then decide' outreach process," she said.

While existing Federal advisory committees will be used to ensure all plans and decisions relating to changes in the air transportation system receive broad review and public comment, more help is needed. To "make sure that the preliminary technical plans we propose have the benefit of private sector expertise before they are delivered… we need the finest and most creative minds working on the task of creating the Next Generation System."

To do this, she announced the creation of the NGATS Institute, an alliance among organizations representing major aviation stakeholder communities. It will support the NGATS mission by recruiting, selecting, and assigning private sector experts and technical resources to participate in Integrated Product Teams, and perform technical work for the IPTs and JPDO.

The NGATS Institute will be co-chaired by the presidents of the Air Traffic Control Association and the Air Transport Association and be governed by a sixteen member Institute Management Council that is broadly representative of the aviation stakeholder community. Day-to-day operations will be managed by an Executive Director.

Another question has been how the NGATS and the Integrated National Plan fits into the FAA's two major operational plans-the Flight Plan and the Operational Evolution Plan.

According to Blakey, "They fit into place with each other like pieces of a puzzle. These two efforts are still very much an integral part of the FAA's short- and long-term strategic planning… However, there is a break from past practices… Today, all of FAA's planning must be aligned to the Next Generation Plan. You can call the Next Generation Plan our plan of plans."

She added that "If you think this plan is going to end up as a bookend somewhere on a shelf, you're going to be mistaken. If you don't like the term 'planning,' substitute 'marching orders.' Because that's what they are."

She told the group that all activities must be focused so our air transportation system will arrive at the ultimate vision articulated in the Integrated National Plan. "This is a crucial point-not just for the FAA-but for all of the air transportation activities spread across the entire government. The simple truth is that we can't afford to scatter our resources and go off on a dozen tangents. The system can't wait, and the taxpayer won't. Everyone must pull in the same direction."

She concluded by saying, "If we cannot come together to build a system that works for all of us, in 10 years time the system will not work for any of us. But we're on the right road at the right time… and we're headed in the right direction."

White Paper: The NGATS Institute

The landmark legislation "Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act", Pub. L. 108-176, provided that the Department of Transportation would establish within the FAA a Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) to develop and implement an Integrated Plan for a Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS). In doing this, the JPDO is empowered to work in conjunction with relevant programs of the Departments of Defense, Commerce, and Homeland Security, and NASA.

"Vision 100" also directs that in developing and carrying out its plans, the JPDO must consult with the public, and ensure participation of experts from the private sector including representatives of commercial aviation, general aviation, aviation labor groups, aviation research and development entities, aircraft and air traffic control suppliers, and the space industry.

Just as the NGATS Integrated Plan represents a bold departure in the way that Federal agencies work together to achieve common objectives, "Vision 100" envisions a new and revolutionary way for government and the private sector to interact to achieve the objectives of the NGATS Integrated Plan.

The new guiding principle is that, rather than observe and comment, the private sector will now join with the government as a full partner in the NGATS development process. Technical experts and system stakeholders from the private sector will participate as full members of the interagency Integrated Product Teams. And the private sector contribute its best and brightest technical, scientific, and professional talent to serve on selected work groups, perform studies and R&D projects, and conduct technology demonstrations in support of NGATS objectives. And the stakeholder community itself will manage how those private sector resources are selected and applied to the NGATS mission.

NGATS Institute Structure and Operating Procedures
Cooperative enterprise between Government and the private sector will take place through the NGATS Institute.

The NGATS Institute is an alliance among organizations representing major aviation stakeholder communities, who will support the NGATS mission by recruiting, selecting, and assigning private sector experts and technical resources to participate on IPTs, and perform technical work for the IPTs/JPDO.

The Institute will operate under guidelines set forth in the funding agreement between the FAA/JPDO and the host organization, the National Center for Advanced Technologies (NCAT) [1]. The agreement provides that the NGATS Institute will be governed by a sixteen (16) member Institute Management Council (IMC) that is broadly representative of the aviation stakeholder community. Chaired by the Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) and the Air Transport Association (ATA), the IMC includes representatives of regional commercial airline operations, business aircraft operations, helicopter operations; small aircraft general aviation, commercial pilots, air traffic controllers, airport operators, manufacturers of air vehicles, manufacturers of airborne/spaceborne and ground based equipment, federal advisory committees, universities, and nonprofit research organizations. The JPDO Director will serve on the IMC in a non-voting capacity.

Day-to-day operations of the NGATS Institute will be managed by an Executive Director, selected by an Executive Committee of the IMC and employed by NCAT.

When the JPDO tasks the Institute to recruit an expert for assignment to an IPT or working group, or to perform a specific project, the Executive Director will publish an announcement and initiate a search for candidates and/or bidders. In consultation with a panel of at least three advisors, the Executive Director will make a selection. An IPT assignment is subject to review by the IMC; project award decisions are subject to review by a standing Contractual Awards Oversight Board, a subcommittee of the IMC.

Participation in the Institute is free of charge, and open to everyone. The Institute will hold at least one public meeting per year. A report of the Institute's activities will be given, and comments invited.

Information and Contact
For additional information on the NGATS Institute, email

State Aviation Officials Briefed on NGATS


The message to state aviation executives was clear: join us.

At a March meeting in Washington, DC, the National Association of State Aviation Officials heard from Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) Deputy Director Bob Pearce, who discussed the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS) initiative and told the group that "You are the customer, you have the infrastructure, your regulations are important. You have expertise and ideas. Get involved."

One way to get involved, he said, was to become part of the NGATS Institute. Another is to make sure the concerns of state aviation officials are heard by continuing its dialogue with the JPDO.

One of the biggest drivers behind change, Pearce said, is market demand. "For example, there is already a great interest in fractional ownership of aircraft. Operations must keep up with that demand," he said.

One official asked how NGATS can benefit small airports as capacity and security needs continue to grow. Pearce said that small airports will play an increasingly important role in the system. Satellite-based technology, enhanced cockpit capabilities, and other improvements will allow for greater use of smaller airports to the point where their services could match those of airports in major metropolitan areas.

As for security, Pearce said that the ultimately goal is a system that is "as transparent as possible," with security built into future systems. He added that the JPDO's Integrated Product Team charged with security issues is headed by the Department of Homeland Security.

"The technology is there," Pearce said. "We need to work together to make sure the investments made to change our operations are used wisely."

Law Enforcement Eyes UAVs to Fight Crime


The Next Generation Air Transportation System foresees a place in the national airspace for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). So does the Los Angeles Police Department, which is poised to use UAVs as crime fighters.

One of the NGATS' strategies is to establish an agile air traffic system by 2025, which includes establishing routine access to the national airspace for UAVs and other new vehicles.

It's a good thing: interest in using UAVs for non-military work is growing. The New York Times reported in January that the Los Angeles Police Department plans to test a UAV next month for potential "eye in the sky" use and other crime-fighting tasks. The article also noted that the United States Marshals Service already uses UAVs for surveillance, while the Maryland Port Authority is interested in a small fleet.

UAVs, already widely used by the military, are attractive to law enforcement organizations because they cost much less than helicopters. Safety is also an asset. Using a UAV, officers can observe a situation from a distance. Helicopters require a pilot and officers - which can be brought down. The size of UAVs also lends to their safety value. Many UAVs are small enough to fit in a car trunk; if they crash, they will do less damage in a populated area than an airplane or helicopter might.

Currently, the legal use of UAVs in the civil airspace requires FAA approval through a one-year "certificate of authorization" for a particular plane in a specific area. Permission to use UAVs is reviewed by the FAA on a case-by-case basis. However, work is already underway to create procedures and standards for UAVs.

Last year, Access 5, a joint government-industry program was initiated. The program brings together NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Defense and six major industry members. Their goal: to plan the safe, orderly and efficient integration of UAVs into civil airspace over the next five years. According to NASA, Access 5's focus is not only on the development of procedures and standards, but also on technologies such as command and control, detection and avoidance.

[1] NCAT is an affiliate of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA).

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