Nextgen for Airports
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
Rarely in the world of academia does a student get to write a paper on something they are actually interested in. That is exactly what has happened in my case this term. From my days in the United States Air Force I’ve been fascinated by aircraft, aircraft technology, and how the daily operations of the worlds flights are coordinated. Nextgen is the future of aircraft travel technology, and this paper will explain its past, present, and future.
What is Nextgen?
NextGen stands for Next Generation Air Transportation System. NextGen is a transformative change in the way aircraft flight is managed, and the operations of ...view middle of the document...
NextGen is better for our environment, and better for our economy.
NextGen for Airports
The United States’ air transportation industry is and has been on the verge of bursting at the seams for more than a decade now. What NextGen means to the U.S. air traffic system is new capabilities that will improve safety and accessibility at airports. Also, Nextgen will allow for future air traffic growth, NextGen capabilities will help commercial airports accommodate the demand for additional capacity in a safe, efficient and environmentally responsible manner. (FAA.gov, 2012)
The FAA provides an example of what NextGen means to the U.S. air traffic system: “the sharing and use of newly available surface surveillance data to track aircraft and vehicles will enhance safety and enable airports to make better use of existing capacity. And while airport surface improvement is one of the main near-term areas of emphasis, work is also underway on other initiatives, such as improving operations on closely spaced parallel, converging and intersecting runways.”
On any given day, more than 87,000 flights are in the skies in the United States. Only one-third is commercial carriers, like American, United or Southwest. On an average day, air traffic controllers handle 28,537 commercial flights (major and regional airlines), 27,178 general aviation flights (private planes), 24,548 air taxi flights (planes for hire), 5,260 military flights and 2,148 air cargo flights (Federal Express, UPS, etc.). At any given moment, roughly 5,000 planes are in the skies above the United States. In one year, controllers handle an average of 64 million takeoffs and landings. (Natca.org, 2012) These are mind boggling statistics that would frighten even the most seasoned air traveler at best. I have several air traffic controller buddies who make greyhound seem more feasible everyday.
Gate to Gate
According to Sarah Brown with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) using traditional technology controllers could only clear two aircraft into Steamboat Springs, Colorado an hour; but by using NextGen technology Wide Area Multilateralation (WAM) their capacity was increased to 10 aircraft an hour. This increase in landings directly affects the local economy through landing fee’s, increase in passenger revenue, tourism, and a myriad of other revenue generating sources to include: parking fee’s, car rentals, concessions, land rentals, and tenant fee’s. By increasing an airports capacity NextGen not only means faster, safer travel but also it means increased revenue’s for all parties involved.
As FAA officials discuss the switch from ground based to satellite surveillance and navigation systems this vast improvement will ultimately lead to increased “gate to gate” air travel. (Brown, 2012) Not only does NextGen improve travel for airline passengers but the new technologies will provide more access for general aviation as well.
Why NextGen Matters
Typically in aviation...