Observations from the NextGen Flight Deck

ALPA offered the pilot’s perspective at the NextGen Institute’s annual public meeting, presented Friday in the atrium at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. This year’s event, titled “NextGen - Successes and Challenges: Building a Path to the Future,” featured government and aviation industry presentations, including firsthand observations about the use of NextGen technologies from ALPA first vice president Capt. Sean Cassidy.

“Successful implementation is a combination of technology, airline enthusiasm, pilot training, controller training, and a stakeholder environment,” said Cassidy, who described flying into Juneau International Airport, with its challenging terrain, and how he directly benefited from this new technology. The Alaska Airlines captain highlighted the success of applications such as RNAV approaches into locations like Denver International Airport and how they reduce flight distances and traffic congestion. “NextGen must be NowGen,” said Cassidy, observing that much of the technology has been available since 1996 and stressing the need to move forward despite the government’s current emphasis on budget cuts and sequestration.

Other meeting presenters included Michael Huerta, FAA administrator; John Porcari, deputy secretary of Transportation; Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), ranking minority member of the House Aviation Subcommittee; and Marion Blakey, president and CEO of Aerospace Industries Association. These and other individuals talked about the tremendous benefits available through NextGen and the importance of prioritizing—as opposed to eliminating—programs during fiscally challenging times.

ALPA president Capt. Lee Moak shared moderator responsibilities during the morning’s presentations, introducing Larsen as well as the event’s panel discussion on overcoming remaining challenges. This year’s public meeting was held the day after the NextGen Advisory Committee released its NextGen Prioritization Report, providing added content for the discussions.