Next Generation Air Transportation System


Background Questions & Answers:

What is the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS)?

Why do we need this initiative?

What is the Joint Planning and Development Office?

What government agencies are involved?

Who is ultimately in charge of the initiative?

What are the so-called key capabilities being planned for the NGATS?

How does industry get involved?

What are the Integrated Product Teams?

How much will this cost?

What progress has been made?

What Products have been created by the JPDO?

What is the NGATS Operational Improvements Roadmap?

What is the Next Generation Air Transportation System Concept of Operations?

What is the Next Generation Air Transportation System Enterprise Architecture?

How do I stay in touch with JPDO’s work, NGATS progress and possibly even get involved?

What is the Tech Hangar?


What is the Next Generation Air Transportation System?

The Next Generation Air Transportation System refers to an initiative started in 2003 to transform the U.S. air transportation system by 2025. In contrast to today’s system, the Next Generation Air Transportation System will be more flexible, resilient, scalable, adaptive, and highly automated – meeting up to two to three times current demand. The NGATS includes security, safety, and efficiency of passenger, cargo and aircraft operations. Aircraft will be able to use information technology in a more robust way, with enhanced capabilities in the cockpit, better navigation and landing capabilities, and far more comprehensive and accurate knowledge of weather and traffic conditions in real time. Passengers will have more choices and will move from airport curb to their airplanes in 30 minutes or less with more security and less intrusion.

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Why do we need this initiative?

Former Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta said in 2004,

“The changes that are coming are too big, too fundamental for incremental adaptations of the infrastructure we need to modernize and transform our air transportation system – starting right now.”

Today’s aviation system cannot meet 21st century needs. That was the conclusion of numerous studies and blue ribbon panels, including most recently, the National Research Council and the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry. The current aviation system cannot tackle emerging safety and homeland security issues. It cannot adequately address more efficient and enlarged capacity and changing market conditions. It cannot enhance let alone restore America’s international leadership in aviation and aerospace. Given these challenges, piecemeal solutions or tinkering at the margins will not work. The future demands nothing less than the complete transformation of the U.S. air system.

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What is the Joint Planning and Development Office?

In 2003, President Bush and Congress took the first decisive steps with the enactment of VISION 100 – Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act (P.L.108-176). It laid out the mandate for Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS) initiative and proposed a unique public/private partnership managed by the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) to carry it out.

What government agencies are involved?

An initiative of this magnitude and complexity could never be successfully completed by one department. To meet this challenge, the unique Next Generation Air Transportation System coalition was created. It includes the Departments of Transportation, Defense, Homeland Security and Commerce and the FAA, NASA and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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Who is ultimately in charge of the initiative?

The Senior Policy Committee oversees the work of the JPDO. It is chaired by the Secretary of Transportation and includes senior leaders from the participating agencies and the White House Office of Science and Technology Director. The Senior Policy Committee provides policy guidance and review; makes legislative recommendations; and identities and aligns resources.

What are the so-called key capabilities being planned for the NGATS?

The JPDO identified eight “key capabilities” missing from today’s system that will play a major role in the future air system. They are: (1) Network Enabled Information Access; (2) Performance-Based Services; (3) Weather Assimilated Into Decision Making; (4) Layered, Adaptive Security; (5) Broad-Area Precision Navigation; (6) Airport Trajectory-Based Operations; (7) Equivalent-Visual Operations; and (8) Super Density Operations. Download Key Capabilities Fact Sheet PDF file.

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How does industry get involved?

We need the best minds in America across both the public and private sectors working on the task of creating the Next Generation Air Transportation System. To achieve this, the NGATS Institute was established in the spring of 2005. The NGATS Institute allows stakeholders to get directly involved in the transformation process. And, while the Aerospace Industries Association is the host for the Institute, it is co-chaired by the presidents of the Air Line Pilots Association and the Air Transport Association and open for participation by all segments of the industry – both in the United States and abroad.

What are the Integrated Product Teams?

Using a best practice, the JPDO created eight government/industry Integrated Product Teams (IPTs) to break this large and complex project into manageable strategies. These strategies focus on those aspects of aviation that hold the keys to capacity and efficiency improvements – airport infrastructure, security, a more agile air traffic system, shared situational awareness, safety, environmental concerns, weather and global harmonization of equipage and operations.

Each agency involved in the initiative leads at least one of the Integrated Product Teams (IPTs). For example, due to its experience and expertise in network enabled operations, the Department of Defense leads the Shared Situational Awareness IPT. Similarly, NASA heads up the Agile Air Traffic System IPT because of its air traffic management research conducted through its Airspace Systems Program.

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How much will this cost?

The JPDO in conjunction with the NGATS Institute is conducting a series of Investment Analysis Workshops to get a high fidelity cost estimate not just for government but the entire aviation community. And any aligning aviation research budgets across government and leveraging private sector expertise, the NGATS will be cost-efficient. Wherever possible, we will use technologies that are already developed or being developed, such as ADS-B.

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What progress has been made?

A number of significant milestones have been achieved and more will follow in 2006. Former DOT Secretary Norman Mineta and FAA Administrator Marion Blakey delivered the NGATS Integrated Plan in December 2004 and the 2005 Progress Report in March 2006 to Congress as mandated by Vision 100.

Eight Integrated Product Teams were formed to break this project down into manageable pieces and provide real world improvements. The Institute has now placed 200 individuals from 70 different organizations on the IPTs.

We have already begun tasking the Institute and IPTs with real work that has a direct impact on the Next Generation Air Transportation System.

Three major NGATS planning products have been developed and are in various stages of review by stakeholders: Operational Improvements Roadmap, Concept of Operations and Enterprise Architecture. See more on these products below.

In its FY 2007 budget request, the Administration proposed targeted investments to accelerate the development of key Next Generation Air Transportation System projects, such as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) which will replace ground-based radar systems and revolutionize air navigation and surveillance and System Wide Information Management (SWIM), which will help make a network-enabled air traffic system possible, improving safety, efficiency, and security.

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What Products have been created by the JPDO?

The first Products from the JPDO are the NGATS Concept of Operations which describes how the future system is operated and how we move passengers from airport curb to airport curb and the NGATS Operational Improvements Roadmap which shows the improvements that will be deployed in the air transportation system to ultimately attain the fully deployed Next Generation Air Transportation System in 2025. We also have created the first version of an NGATS Enterprise Architecture. These three products are further described below.

What is the Next Generation Air Transportation System Operational Improvements Roadmap?

The Next Generation Air Transportation Operational Improvements Roadmap is a document that shows how current and near-term transformational activities such as ADS-B, cooperative surveillance and satellite navigation will be aligned with the planned future system. The Next Generation Air Transportation OI Roadmap is divided into distinct but interrelated operational improvements, and breaks down the evolution path of the Next Generation Air Transportation System into seven 4-year segments. The Next Generation Air Transportation OI Roadmap was originally released in the spring of 2006, but it is a "living document" and subject to future revisions. The document is available on the JPDO Tech Hangar website; if you register with that site and log in, you will be able to access it from this page.

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What is the Next Generation Air Transportation System Concept of Operations?

The Next Generation Air Transportation System Concept of Operations, or CONOPS, is a document that provides a basic operational description of how the Next Generation Air Transportation System will function. The first Next Generation Air Transportation System CONOPS draft focuses on what is called “block to block,” referring to all segments of a flight, from the time an aircraft departs until it arrives at its destination.

A future version of ConOps, called “Curb to curb,” will include operations that take place before and after a flight . Also, the additional topics of environment and airports will be included in future versions. Click here for a chart of planned future versions. The Next Generation Air Transportation System Concept of Operations is being developed concurrently with the Next Generation Air Transportation System Enterprise Architecture.

The ConOps document was released for stakeholder comment in July 2006 and is being modified based on that input. Full approval is expected in 2007. However, these documents are iterative and will continue to evolve.

The document is available on the JPDO Tech Hangar website; if you register with that site and log in, you can access it from this page.

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What is the Next Generation Air Transportation System Enterprise Architecture?

The Next Generation Air Transportation System Enterprise Architecture represents the actual plan for how the Next Generation Air Transportation System will be developed, much like a set of blueprints. This includes the systems that will be needed, the timing for their development, and how they will work together. The Next Generation Air Transportation System Enterprise Architecture is a recognized tool for re-engineering business practices and the underlying technology that supports them.

An initial version of the Next Generation Air Transportation System Enterprise Architecture has been released through the Architecture Integration Council and NGATS Institute for stakeholder review.  Full approval is expected in 2007.  However, the Enterprise Architecture will evolve as research and policy questions are answered and implementation of Operational Improvements are addressed in detail.


How do I stay in touch with JPDO’s work, NGATS progress and possibly even get involved?

Complete the short form on our Get Involved page. You may want to check out our Tech Hangar website and possibly create an account there.

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What is the Tech Hangar?

The JPDO Tech Hangar website is JPDO’s venue for the technical and academic communities; it has two major sections, Technical Previews and Released Documents. In the Technical Previews section we post work-in-process versions of JPDO’s NGATS products and other documents for which we want to gather feedback and provoke discussion.  In the Released Documents section we post completed and fully released materials. A user account is required to preview and comment on work-in-process documents posted in the Technical Previews section - you can register and create a user account on this page.

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