EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Embry-Riddle’s Christina Frederick-Recascino (Part 4 of 4)

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FLY NEXTGEN: What do you think needs to happen in the next 6 to 12 months?
CHRISTINA FREDERICK-RECASCINO: I’ll tell you, I think having the incoming Congress look at and reauthorize the FAA would be a big step in the right direction. The authorization bill has been delayed for what, four years now? I think a lot of the reauthorization, it will influence how and where money is spent. I think NextGen will position itself favorably in that. So I think that’s important.

There’s definitely thought leadership at the FAA, at a variety of levels. I mean, I certainly think that Bobby Sturgell understands the situation and is moving forward as best he can, given that fact that he is interim. Several of the deputy administrators are doing a very good job. And I think that one of the best things we could do is keep that continuity. You know, I would hate to see a huge shakeup at the FAA that would then move us backwards. We could really benefit from a “stay-the-course” type of approach. Because I do think that there are good people there who understand the system and understand the importance of this movement.

FLY NEXTGEN: Have you been approached by the presidential campaigns?
CHRISTINA FREDERICK-RECASCINO: Not on NextGen. We have been approached for space policy. We’re open, we’re not for profit — we’re happy to provide information to any candidate. I think that the issue that the candidates have focused on has been space –- with the shuttle retirement, Kennedy Space Center, with Florida being a battleground state, that’s an issue. So they’ve asked more about space than about aviation. I actually think that aviation is a pretty bipartisan issue.

FLY NEXTGEN: What will change after inauguration?
CHRISTINA FREDERICK-RECASCINO: There’s going to be new people in high places. We only hope that those people are knowledgeable and have maybe been around in the system. You know, you think: Is that a good thing? In this case, I think it’s a good thing. The emergence of NextGen technologies has followed a path that has occurred over the last 10 years. You don’t want someone coming who knows absolutely nothing — that would, I think, be a real setback. Not that that’s likely to occur .. but I think we really do have some momentum within the FAA, with the JPDO being situated there now, there is some real momentum.

FLY NEXTGEN: If you could send a message to agency and congressional leaders, what would you ask for?
CHRISTINA FREDERICK-RECASCINO: I would request that to keep the money flowing. I would ask: Don’t cut back on this effort now that has we’ve gotten moving. The tendency is always — when air traffic, when air travel declines, all of a sudden the problem isn’t as urgent, we’ll divert funds to something else. Now is exactly the time when we should be testing and implementing to be prepared for three years from now. Please don’t stop now, don’t take that money that was lined up for NextGen and say, gosh, it’s better spent somewhere else. That’s my fear.

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