Regulatory status of Aviation’s NextGen Upgrades

February 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Posted in Aviation Law Current Event | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Airlines Won’t Get Upgrade Funding

A major aviation bill before the Senate this month doesn’t include funding to equip planes with the new systems that airlines have sought for years. And the Federal Aviation Administration, which had urged the White House to support federal financial help for such changes, on Thursday sought to prod airlines to pay for the upgrades themselves.

The long-delayed FAA reauthorization legislation, which appears poised to receive Senate approval later this month, seeks to allocate nearly $8 billion for airport construction and is being pitched by Democratic leaders as a job-creation measure. It also continues government support for certain ground stations needed to modernize the FAA’s air-traffic control network.

But in a disappointment to industry, the Senate bill doesn’t include significant funding to help airlines shoulder the multibillion-dollar cost of installing onboard equipment required to switch to a more-capable, satellite-based navigation and traffic-control system. By replacing reliance on ground radars and other, often decades-old equipment, the goal is to create a modernized system that federal and industry officials say will lead to more-efficient routes, fuel savings, environmental benefits and fewer delays for passengers. [full story]

Source: The Washington Post

FAA to equip some JetBlue planes with NextGen GPS technology

The federal government will pay $4.2 million to install new navigation systems on 35 JetBlueairplanes, hoping their enhanced performance will entice the airline industry to invest up to $20 billion in the new technology over the next decade.

Many planes are equipped with GPS technology, but NextGen is a multifaceted system that will link that data into an information system that will manage air travel from the time a plane pushes back from one gate until it arrives at the next. NextGen’s network of ground stations is to provide blanket coverage of the United States by 2013. By 2020, all commercial planes will be required to use the system, but selling the recession-strapped industry on its benefits is the FAA’s challenge.

The administration estimates NextGen will reduce flight delays by 20 percent, save airlines millions in fuel costs and cut carbon dioxide emissions dramatically. If the investment in JetBlue, announced Thursday, proves all that, the FAA will have a persuasive argument with other airlines.

For the airline industry, the investment could run between $32,000 and $175,000 per plane for the basic system that will be installed in 35 JetBlue planes. The FAA estimates an additional $162,000 to $670,000 per plane will be necessary to buy the full package of equipment. The significant difference in cost depends on whether an older plane is being retrofitted or a new plane receives factory installation.

The federal investment in NextGen is expected to be between $15 billion and $22 billion.

Other Sources:

Flight Global – JetBlue to showcase NextGen benefits in ADS-B trial

Air Transport WorldFAA to invest $4.2 million to equip 35 JetBlue A320s for NextGen

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