Back to the Beginning

Earlier, I discussed Chapter 2 of JPDO’s NextGen ConOps.  Truth be told, I haven’t had the time to read it cover to cover yet.  I’m not sure how long it’ll take me to get through it all, so I’m going to start at Chapter 1 and just share my observations as I go.

1.2.1.1 User Focus

A major theme of NextGen is an emphasis on providing more flexibility and information to users while reducing the need for government intervention and control of resources. NextGen enables operational and market freedom through greater situational awareness and data accessibility, and it aligns government structures, processes, strategies, and business practices with customer needs. The provision of multiple service levels permits a wider range of tailored services to better meet individual user needs and investment choices.

Hmmm, reducing the need for government intervention and control of resources and aligning government structures, processes, strategies, and business practices with customer needs.  Let’s see, you mean like this, this, this or this?

There’s a very clear and present danger when you let the fox (Industry) guard the henhouse (public safety).  And I was under the impression that the FAA was taken to task two years ago for referring to and treating the (airline) users as customers.  Guess JPDO hasn’t gotten that memo yet.

With a focus on users, NextGen is also more agile in responding to user needs. Capacity is expanded to meet demand by investing in new infrastructure, shifting NextGen resources (e.g., airspace structures and other assets) to meet demand, implementing more efficient procedures (e.g., reducing separation between aircraft to safely increase airport throughput), and minimizing the effects of constraints such as weather on overall system capacity. The system will be nimble enough to adjust cost effectively to varying levels of demand, allowing more creative sharing of airspace capacity for law enforcement, military, scheduled air transport, and general aviation users. Restrictions on access to NextGen resources are limited in both extent and time duration to those required to address a safety or security need.

Reducing separation to increase airport throughput?  Wonder if they’re planning on having airlines start flying in flights and putting two or more air carriers on a runway at a time because I’m not seeing how else this might work.

Machines can space the aircraft as close as they want on final and it’s still not going to change the fact that each pilot/crew flies differently.  How fast they slow down, turn off the runway and taxi is still going to be at the discretion of the pilot in command.  Or is it?

For those pilots who believe taking on the full responsibility for IFR separation upon themselves and reducing the role/jurisdiction of air traffic controllers is a good thing, keep one thing in mind – Industry will be coming for you as well.

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