FAA touts NextGen implementation in Texas

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is touting the implementation of equipment related to its proposed satellite-based airplane navigation system known as NextGen in Texas. 

The agency said Tuesday that it has completed work related to the NextGen project at the North Texas Metroplex, which it would drastically ease air traffic congestion around the Dallas area. 

“The North Texas NextGen Metroplex is an example for the entire country – of the difference we can make with the help of the federal government,” Transportation Secretary Anthony FoxxAnthony Renard FoxxLyft sues New York over new driver minimum pay law Lyft confidentially files for IPO Hillicon Valley: Exclusive: Audit cleared Google's privacy practices despite security flaw | US weapon systems vulnerable to cyber attacks | Russian troll farm victim of arson attack | US telecom company finds 'manipulated' hardware MORE said in a statement. “This major infrastructure project means more on-time arrivals for passengers, fuel savings for airlines and reduced emissions for the environment.”

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The FAA has been planning for years to discard the World War II-era radar technology that’s been used to manage airplane traffic for generations.

The agency says the new system will ease congestion in the airspace around busy U.S. airports by streamlining the arrivals and departures of flights. It also argues that navigating flights more efficiently will have environmental benefits because airplanes will use less gas and produce less smog.

The catch is that the NextGen system is expected to cost about $40 billion to complete and an original deadline of a 2020 nationwide implementation is rapidly approaching. Complicating matters further, the FAA’s current funding is scheduled to expire in September 2015, although lawmakers have already begun holding hearings about a possible extension next year. 

In the meantime, the FAA has adopted a piecemeal approach to NextGen that involves individual projects like the Texas Metroplex facility. 

FAA officials said the installation of NextGen equipment in North Texas would save airlines 4.1 million gallons of gas per year and reduce carbon emissions by about 41,000 metric tons each year.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said he hoped the benefits that will be experienced in Texas would spur action on NextGen at other airports around the country. 

“Using NextGen satellite-based technology, the FAA and its workforce have collaborated with the industry to convert the busy and complex airspace around North Texas into some of the most efficient in the nation,” Huerta said in a statement.  “The result is a solution that not only benefits the National Airspace System, it benefits the aviation industry, the environment and the traveling public.”