AP ‘investigation’ finds NextGen could save lots of fuel, if only it existed today

The Associated Press ran an in-depth piece about the potential of NextGen under the “AP Impact” banner, pegged primarily to their analysis of unspecified “government and industry data.” The article says that satellite-based navigation could save $5 billion per year in fuel costs if it were operational and universally adopted today. Clearly, these are some pretty big “ifs”.
More than anything, the piece is notable for its length and level of detail — especially given the generally low level of mainstream media interest in NextGen.
One tidbit that was new to us: Southwest Airlines says it’s investing $175 million to equip 500 planes with ADS-B in the next few years.
The author also made a point of collecting quotes from the usual suspects. Here a selection:

Robert Sturgell, Acting FAA Administrator: “The United States has been to the moon and back. I think the public deserves that same level of effort for our national airspace system.”

David Castelveter, ATA spokesman, on the current system: “It’s the equivalent of using an electric typewriter when others are using computers.” [..] “It’s a huge, huge drag on productivity.”

Gerald Dillingham, Director of Civil Aviation, GAO: [Building the system is like] “changing a tire on a car that’s going 60 miles an hour.”

Hank Krakowski, FAA head of the air traffic system: “One of the largest project management challenges the federal government has had since we put somebody on the moon.”

Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tennessee, Chairman, House Science & Technology Committee: “The next president needs to make the NextGen initiative a national priority and ensure that it is given the resources, management attention and sense of urgency that it warrants.”

David Stempler, President, Air Travelers Association: “We think it’ll all be worth it in the long run. The alternatives look pretty bleak to us.”

Doug Church, National Air Traffic Controllers Association: “GPS might be great to put in your car, too, but it’s not going to get you to work any faster unless they open up another lane on the highway. And it’s the same in the air.”


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