The Airport2025 Conference, held in Washington D.C. June 28-30, formally marked the start of the collaborative government and aviation community effort called for by the Executive Branch and Congress to plan and develop the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS). The Airport2025 Conference was held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington D.C. and was jointly hosted by the Joint Planning & Development Office (JPDO), the associated DHS Security Integrated Project Team (Security IPT) and the National Safe Skies Alliance (Safe Skies). More than 250 United States and international attendees, representing government, industry and academia, participated in workshops and received briefings and demonstrations on various aviation topics, most having relevance to some aspect of aviation security.
Distinguished speakers included Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, Senate Majority Leader Senator Bill Frist, Congressmen Jimmy Duncan and Zach Wamp, Director of the Joint Planning and Development Office Charles Keegan, Security IPT Director Dr. Susan Hallowell Ph.D., Acting Deputy Administrator for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Tom Blank, Chief Technology Officer of the TSA Cliff Wilke and the Director of the NGATS Institute Dale Goodrich.
Colonel David Rhodes, Director of the DoD Shared Situational Awareness IPT, briefed the attendees on the current NGATS concept and plans, focusing on transforming air traffic management and network-enabled operations. All eight of the NGATS IPT Directors briefed attendees on the activities of their particular teams and invited industry and academia to participate in developing and defining the NGATS. To aid the collaborative process and comply with government regulations concerning private sector partnership with the government, the NGATS Institute was recently established by the FAA. This NGATS Institute provides a fair and open process for IPTs to obtain private sector and academic expertise in particular areas of interest.
The Airport2025 Conference featured three specific workshops on Network Enabled Operations, Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Airport Infrastructure Protection. Initial Security IPT plans in these areas were presented and formed the basis for a free, spirited discussion as government, industry and academic representatives shared ideas, examined issues and made recommendations on how to begin defining the desired NGATS capabilities and take the first steps towards transformation. Attendees also had the opportunity to complete a supplied questionnaire that asked if the NGATS effort was headed in the right direction and presented the right critical issues or if any critical issues had been overlooked.
Based on the interest generated by the Airport2025 Conference, Tom Jensen, President and CEO of Safe Skies, anticipated another conference would take place in the future, most likely over the next two to three years. In closing remarks, Karl Grundmann, Director of the JPDO Communications Division, stressed that the government cannot accomplish this task alone. Mr. Grundmann noted that industry and academia must partner with the government to ensure that the safest and most secure air transportation system in the world only becomes better as it expands and evolves in the coming years.