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Futures Working Group Final Report - August 2004

• Click here to download the Futures Working Group Report (5.6MB .pdf) •

On behalf of the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) for the Next Generation Air Transportation System, we express our gratitude to the attendees of the Futures Working Group scenario-based workshops in Williamsburg in March. We found that the data the workshop attendees produced were extremely valuable to the strategy synthesis process and trust that they found the scenario-based strategy development experience as rewarding as we found it productive.

The document linked from this page presents the complete record of the JPDO Futures Working Group strategy development process. Aviation professionals across government, industry and academic sectors contributed many long, hard hours to this process. The JPDO is very grateful for that support.

JPDO Stakeholder involvement in the process has been crucial to its success to date. Individually and collectively these participants have brought to this effort rich professional experiences, outstanding technical knowledge, and a vision of how the future air transportation system can be shaped to better serve the public, fuel economic growth and enhance the well-being of the entire nation. The transformation challenge is, as you know, formidable. But we believe that stakeholder participation in and support for the process helps assure that the leadership of the air transportation enterpriseˇand Congress--will take seriously the strategies and action steps contained in these documents.

Where do we go from here? The strategies and implementation initiatives are being blended with parallel JPDO research and analytical tasks - all of which will ultimately form the basis of the Integrated National Plan that will be presented to Congress in December 2004. We will be holding additional "user" workshops both to further refine our work and to ensure that the harder edges of the strategic insights do not get smoothed over in the review process. And we want very much for this process to create a continuing voice for the stakeholder community.

We are more than ever convinced that the success of the transformation enterprise depends on stakeholder ongoing involvement. We will keep you informed and will doubtless reach out for your thoughts and perspectives as this first JPDO chapter winds down and the next one begins.

Thank you again to all who contributed to our Spring 2004 workshops.

Summary of the Report

The enclosed report presents a set of 11 strategies derived from 50 interviews and a scenario-based planning process that included 101 members of 51 organizations representing the interests specified in the legislation, led by the Futures Working Group of the Joint Planning and Development Office.

How we think about possible futures is the vital prelude to what we think about those futures. The scenario-based process used to create the strategies is a rigorous method that produces highly creative results. Instead of simply extrapolating from past trends, this process considered a wide range of world futures that could result from various possible states of the economy, globalization, trends in transportation architectures, and impediments to aviation. The Futures Working Group then selected five scenarios on different frontiers of the plausible, with the intent of crafting air transportation strategies that would prove effective across the range of postulated future worlds.

Two workshops, each divided into five groups - one for each future world - convened government and industry experts to formulate strategies that responded to the conditions of each of the five future worlds. In order to identify strategies that would be valid across multiple worlds, the strategies from each world were then tested by the other groups for applicability in the context of the other futures. The 11 final FWG strategies represent a synthesis of the 108 scenario-specific strategies proposed and tested by the working groups. They are robust in the sense that they were found to be valid across a set of scenarios encompassing a range of plausible futures.

Because of the wide range of changes in the world situation, economy, and operating environment for air transportation envisioned between today and the target year of 2025, the combination of strategies is aimed at nothing less than transforming air transportation. Only a transformational vision can address the nation's needs in plausible futures that include a tripling (or shrinking) of the demand for air travel, fossil fuels becoming less available and more costly, a public that is increasingly concerned with the environment, an accelerating pace of production and distribution of goods, radically growing importance of international travel and commerce as the world becomes more interdependent, space travel becoming a reality, and conventional aircraft sharing the skies with uninhabited air vehicles that support safety, security, and national defense.

The robust strategies for transformation that resulted from this activity are presented below.

Scenario-based Strategies for Transformation of Air Travel
1. Implement a national transportation system that streamlines doorstep-to-destination travel to provide users with a wide range of options for managing efficiencies, costs, and uncertainties.
2. Design, build, and deploy a network-centric, distributed air traffic management system to increase safety, scalability, capacity, efficiency, and opportunities for free-flight operations.
3. Create an air transportation system architecture capable of mitigating the effects of disruptions from any source, in air, space, and intermodal components, to advance dependability for all users.
4. Develop globally compatible information networks functionally unconstrained by spectrum and bandwidth to provide comprehensive, secure, integrated, real-time knowledge for users of the transportation system.
5. Establish a single national authority and budget for the design and deployment of integrated solutions in the air and space transportation system, to ensure optimal system-wide planning and decision making, greater efficiency, security, and intermodal connectivity.
6. Establish global security systems and procedures to ensure origin-to-destination physical and health security for travelers and cargo without impeding the free flow of traffic.
7. Implement a system-wide capability for integrated weather applications to dramatically reduce weather disruptions to safe and efficient operations within the air and space transportation system.
8. Take the leadership role in gaining worldwide acceptance of unified standards for air and space regulations, policies and procedures to lower cost and improve safety, security, and technology implementation.
9. Accelerate the integration of new technologies into an adaptive air transportation system to enable transformation paced to user needs.
10. Balance improved safety with other system performance goals to enable timely and cost-effective system enhancements.
11. Expedite development and adoption of environment-preserving air and space transportation technologies, policies, and procedures, at the system and local levels, to enable secure, scalable, and flexible operations and to preserve equitable access.

The strategies are intended to result in an air transportation system in 2025 that:

  • Enables travelers and shippers to reach any destination, with smooth transitions between modes, and supported by an information system that enables them to make informed decisions
  • Offers a dynamic range of service choices (origin, destination, cost, time, etc.)
  • Never goes down
  • Always provides users with whatever information they are authorized to receive, wherever they may be
  • Benefits from stable and mutually beneficial government-industry partnerships
  • mposes no undue security or health risks to travelers and shippers, and movements are not impeded by security measures
  • Allows operators and travelers to reliably plan, or modify in real time, their routes from origin to destination with full knowledge of current and forecasted weather conditions at all points along the way
  • Applies globally accepted uniform standards, regulations, policies, and procedures
  • Benefits from technology solutions that are continuously identified, rapidly developed, and readily adopted through coordinated public-private sector actions
  • Has achieved a marked increase in public confidence in its performance
  • Enjoys dramatically reduced environmentally-based public resistance by virtue of major operational and technical improvements.

The Futures Working Group also concluded that the scenario-based approach to strategic planning and strategic thinking should be institutionalized within the JPDO and its community of stakeholders. This recommendation arises from the dynamic nature of the future marketplace and environment. New needs, new operational concepts, and new technology solutions will undoubtedly arise as the transformation proceeds, and it will be desirable to engage an ever-expanding number of stakeholders in the strategic planning process. This technique will ensure that the JPDO continues to pursue robust, effective strategies that respond to a changing world.

These strategies and recommendations, then, represent the applied expertise and judgment of more than 150 participants. Resulting from a rigorous scenario-based process, they constitute a demonstrably applicable set of guiding principles to satisfy the nation's 21st century needs for accessible, efficient, safe, reliable, and environmentally friendly air transportation. We are, therefore, pleased to submit them to the Joint Planning and Development Office for consideration in formulating a national plan that will meet the nation's future needs in a timely and effective manner.

• Click here to download the Futures Working Group Report (5.6MB .pdf) •

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