NextGen Benefits Must Be Available to All GA Stakeholders, Bolen Tells Senate Hearing

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Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360, 

Washington, DC, June 25, 2014 – In written testimony submitted before a congressional hearing on the state of progress toward implementation of a Next Generation “NextGen” aviation system, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen outlined several technical issues that pose challenges to the industry. He also reiterated the concern that general aviation (GA) operators may be subjected to unanticipated financial costs in attempting to comply with a specific equipage mandate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Bolen began his testimony, addressed to the to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Aviation, by commending the FAA for continually bringing all industry stakeholders together in an ongoing dialogue about NextGen priorities. NextGen modernization is such a high priority for NBAA and its Members, Bolen noted, that the Association has staff representation on all the major NextGen government-industry working groups.

“We value our collaborative relationship with the FAA, and believe that, working together, we can help make implementation of NextGen work for the aviation industry, and the country as a whole, Bolen stated. “That said, for all of the benefits we know NextGen will provide, it is clear that some challenges exist with regard to its implementation.”

For example, Bolen noted the financial and technological difficulties in the FAA’s requirement that all GA aircraft operating in the national airspace system be equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology – a core component for the NextGen aviation system – by Jan. 1, 2020.

“We need a better understanding of what type of commitment operators must make for technology upgrades and new investments,” he added. “As with all new programs, we also have concerns about what the equipage costs for operators will be, and what services can be expected from installation of ADS-B and other NextGen equipment.”

Bolen also called for greater willingness by the FAA to consider input from GA industry stakeholders in certifying aircraft for advanced operational procedures made possible by NextGen equipage, including required navigational performance (RNAV/RNP) authorization required (AR) approach procedures, radius-to-fix (RF) routing segments, and RNAV visual flight procedures (RVFPs).

Though many business aircraft are already equipped with the technologies required to fly these enhanced procedures, Bolen pointed out that some are approved only for commercial airline and air charter operators. Others are available only through approval via burdensome certification procedures, based on methodologies that predate today’s advanced cockpit avionics.

“Today’s approval requirements could be made simpler, given the proven effectiveness in the equipment used in flying the approaches, and the years of experience in the safe use of the procedures,” Bolen said. “With simplified requirements, more companies and entrepreneurs using business aircraft would qualify, benefitting not only the business aviation segment, but the efficiency and safety of the system as a whole.”

The June 25 hearing was the latest in a series of recent discussions on Capitol Hill about the state of the FAA’s planned implementation of NextGen. NBAA has participated in several of the sessions, with personal appearances before lawmakers, as well as through written testimony. Read more about NBAA's participation in congressional hearings on NextGen

In concluding his testimony, Bolen said: “It is clear that when thinking about modernization of the nation’s aviation system, the equipment involved – for government and industry alike – is a major consideration, and will continue to be so. It is equally clear that the benefits derived from enhanced procedures will also be a key component of aviation-system transformation, and that in order for those benefits to be fully realized, all industry segments must be able to take advantage of those new procedures. Finally, it is clear that aviation modernization must continue to be a national priority, with a national investment and engagement from Congress.”

Review Bolen's full testimony.

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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 10,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, the world's largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at www.nbaa.org.

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