FAA updates NextGen Implementation Plan; emphasis on avionics

There’s a new plan in town, and it comes from the FAA. The current update to the NextGen Implementation Plan (summary here; full doc available here) outlines the agency’s implementation commitments for the next five years, locks in a set of capabilities that it aims to make operational by 2018, and lays out a roadmap for avionics equipage.

Aviation Week had this by way of summary:

Avionics is a major focus of FAA’s latest 2018 plan. “Ensuring that a significant portion of the aircraft fleet is appropriately equipped to take advantage of NextGen infrastructure improvements is perhaps the most critical issue in achieving success,” the plan says. To achieve this, FAA advocates a “best-equipped, best-served” policy, as well as incentives for operators. The agency believes the changes it proposes could cut delays by 35%-40%, versus the “no-change” scenario.

For aircraft equipage, the plan envisages greater use of existing technology such as RNAV/RNP, electronic flight bags and data communications. However, new capabilities will also be implemented. Many of these are based on satellite navigation, drawing on automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B), with both ADS-B In and Out.

The new plan also highlights the ATC infrastructure programs that will be necessary. Many of these are already in various stages of implementation or development, such as the massive en-route automation modernization (ERAM) effort.

The NextGen portion of the FAA’s web site has a fairly detailed layout of the 2018 capability framwork broken down by “flight stage”: Planning, pushback/taxi/takeoff, climb and cruise, descent and approach, and landing/taxi/gate arrival.

We’ll hear more about avionics and the NextGen roadmap at Thursday’s JPDO all-hands meeting — stay tuned.

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