Click here for video of this hearing.
The scheduled witnesses are:
Chairman Stevens - Questions & Answers:
Chairman Stevens: Ms. Blakey, we had a long discussion about the concept of upfront money and paying it off over a period of years, a concept of creating some sort of an entity that would bond and go to the general market to get funds and be repaid through the normal flow of funds to the FAA. Have we come anywhere close to that yet?
Administrator Blakey: After your initial discussion about this in January, certainly we began looking at this very carefully and we held a forum at the end of April, where we were looking at the various ways to approach changing the funding structure for the Trust Fund and also looking at the challenges there. We, therefore, brought in a number of the analysts from the financial community who are real experts on the issue of bonding and debt financing and how it can be approached and I was very encouraged by the number of ways that this can be addressed even in a government context. I will also tell you that it was very interesting because we invited the Tennessee Valley Authority, the TVA, which is one of the examples of where debt financing is being used in the federal government arena. And, again, they talked about what this has made possible in terms of capital investment in the Tennessee Valley. It’s very impressive. I can’t tell you where we may go at this point from the standpoint of proposals, but we’re looking very much at sitting down with you and others to discuss what the potential could be because it obviously is one of the ways you can have a large amount of upfront capital to invest in the next generation system, to really begin to get the benefits of that and lower the unit costs, which is something we all want to do when you’re talking about three times the traffic.
Chairman Stevens: Well, if we look at the myriad of instances in our federal government where immediate upfront capital is needed for modernization and look at the federal budget, it’s really not possible to achieve what we have to do with a short period of time without starting a concept similar to TVA in several different places in the government and relying upon private capital to come in and take part if the risk. But, actually, they will be relying upon the continued level of existing appropriations in various areas to repay the bonds to be issued. I still think that’s the only way to accomplish what we have to do in aviation and I would be pleased to call literally a summit between everybody to literally sit down and work out something that we could jointly introduce to start this on its road. I think we absolutely have to have that money upfront. And, you have to know how much you have before you can really solidly follow Mr. Mead’s suggestions and some of them, maybe not all of them Mr. Mead, but most of them. And, I think he has been very astute at pointing out the areas of real concern and there has to be some prioritization for that and I do hope we can get to that point. I want to applaud what you’ve done in terms of Reagan Airport. I think that solution, if it works, ought to be looked at see how we might regulate the use of general aviation in some of these highly congested places. Now, they may not like to hear that, but there’s just too many new business jets coming online, I think, for them to be fully into the total freedom of the airways as it has existed in the past. I think we’re going to have to find some way to prioritize flights and to have some entities know how many flights a week they can have in certain airports, rather than just announce that they’re coming two hours from now. That concept of advanced planning has got to come into this if I’m right. Mr. Mead do you disagree?
Mr. Mead: No, sir.
Chairman Stevens: Are we going to have to move to a satellite-based system for your communications or are we going to change our basic concept of communications as these new technologies tumble in communications? Are you going to broadband? Are you going to stay with your existing system? What is going to be the basic communication concept for your airways into the future?
Administrator Blakey: I think there’s no question about the fact that we will be moving to a satellite-based system and we, of course, are looking at the communications issues in terms of spectrum and what will be required. We have a real expert at the table, Amr ElSawy, so Amr, you might want to address that.
Mr. ElSawy: Thank you, ma’am. I think the answer is, we’ll have to use multiple communications systems. Satellite communications is an integral part of the future concept. ADSB as a digital link is an integral part of the concept. And, as we move to the future with routing technologies and Internet technologies, we’re able to in fact have every element of the NAS be addressable with an address so that we can know where it is and we can direct communications to it and I think that broadband communications, satellite communications, ADSB, are all elements for the future concept.
Chairman Stevens: Well, what you choose is going to really have an impact on the modernization of some of the aircraft so I think people have to know in advance what you’re going to do.
Mr. ElSawy: Precisely.
Witness Panel 1
The Honorable Kenneth MeadInspector GeneralU.S. Department of Transportation
The Honorable Marion BlakeyAdministratorFederal Aviation Administration
STATEMENT OF MARION C. BLAKEY, ADMINISTRATOR,
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON
COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION, SUBCOMMITTEE ON
AVIATION, ON AVIATION CAPACITY AND CONGESTION
CHALLENGES -SUMMER 2005 AND FUTURE DEMAND
MAY 26, 2005 Good morning Chairman Burns, Senator Rockefeller, and Members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to be here this morning to discuss our plans to ease air traffic congestion this spring and summer. Secretary Mineta and I wish to offer our congratulations to you, Mr. Chairman, on assuming the Chair of this Subcommittee and to extend our good wishes to the new and returning Members of the Subcommittee. But before we discuss capacity and delays, let me address safety. As you know, safety is and will always be the FAA’s top priority. Every decision we make is done with the safety of the flying public in mind. The system must be safe, as you know, and we deliver a remarkably safe system. I am pleased to note that over the last three years, the commercial airline fatal accident rate is the lowest in history. That’s a tribute to the men and women of the FAA and the industry we support. The health of our aviation system is critical to our economy, and the good news is that air travel has rebounded. We now project that overall passenger demand and commercial activity at FAA air traffic facilities will return to pre-9/11 traffic levels by the end of this year, reaching about 710 million passengers. Commercial operations at 17 of this country’s top 35 airports have already exceeded their pre 9/11 levels, with some airports like Salt Lake City and Fort Lauderdale already showing very high growth, above 11.5 percent and 6.6 percent over pre 9/11 levels respectively. With approximately 9 percent of our country’s Gross Domestic Product tied to aviation, this is a very welcome rebound. However, we need to brace up because with this rebound will come delays, potentially serious ones, as early as this summer, and we need to do all we can to avoid them. That’s why today’s hearing is both important and timely. Certainly some aviation markets have fared better than others, and new trends have emerged. Low-cost carriers have increased their market share, while the larger “legacy carriers” have been restructuring and downsizing. Also, regional and commuter carriers have been replacing and supplementing flight routes once dominated by legacy carriers, as well as introducing new services that use longer range regional jets. As a result, we are seeing significant growth in the regional carrier market, and we expect it will continue to grow. Following 9/11, the agency worked with this Committee and industry stakeholders to prepare for the return of air traffic demand. We developed careful plans and worked to ensure that the agency was better situated to avoid the delay problems of past summers. We will continue the successful innovative steps begun in recent years that have helped to avert a repeat of past delay-riddled summers. To address and alleviate congestion and delays over the short term we will work to implement new procedures, more pavement, and better technology. Our plan takes into account the myriad of factors -- some well beyond our control -- that contribute to system delays, including weather, security, airline operations, air traffic control, airports, infrastructure, and equipment. We are confident that this approach will provide effective inroads to manage the surge in traffic that will coincide with the busy summer travel season. To emphasize the difficulty some of these factors create for the National Airspace System, you may recall that last summer four major hurricanes made landfall in the state of Florida, one of the country’s primary tourist and travel destinations, in just a six-week period. Airports and air traffic facilities across the state suffered significant damage, including Southwest Florida in Fort Myers; Orlando International in central Florida -- which was hit by three different hurricanes; and the FAA’s Pensacola TRACON in the Panhandle. The FAA responded quickly to restore capabilities damaged by the storms. For example, the Pensacola TRACON was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Ivan. The facility was closed on September 15th because of the forecasted winds and storm surge. Employees volunteered to stay behind to monitor the facility condition and begin service restoration after the hurricane passed. However, during the height of the storm, the roof of the Pensacola TRACON was partially torn off. Employees on site quickly unplugged and protected the sensitive ATC equipment from the wind and rain, saving millions of dollars worth of equipment. Through the dedicated work of our employees and the cooperation of several agencies, the Pensacola TRACON was reopened for daylight operations only within two days, and to full ATC operations only 20 days after Ivan’s devastation. Additionally, FAA’s Airports Organization distributed $25 million from the Emergency Hurricane Supplemental Appropriations Act to 85 airports in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Puerto Rico in record time, allowing the airports to make repairs and resume operations. Many of the new procedures we are now using were the result of a first-of-its-kind meeting of industry decision makers and the government, known as “Growth Without Gridlock,” which we convened last year. The group agreed to a series of new procedures designed to relieve congestion during the heavy summer travel season. We moved away from the “first come-first served” model of air traffic when demand far exceeds capacity by issuing revised flight plans or rerouting some aircraft away from problem areas, allowing us to maximize utilization of available airspace under adverse conditions. The most innovative of these new procedures, a concept we call “delay triggering,” imposes minor delays on the ground to avert massive delays across the National Airspace System. When delays at an airport are anticipated to reach 90 minutes or more, other airports sending aircraft into the congested area will hold flights until our controllers clear the congestion. Although this may mean brief delays for some flights, it helps prevent the massive delays that can occur system-wide when critical airports become gridlocked. This procedure has been so successful that we have incorporated the philosophy into other areas of managing demand and delays. Most recently, we began using this concept in managing departure delays from Fort Lauderdale. The feedback from our customers has been very positive, and we will continue to apply this procedure during the upcoming convective weather season. A major accomplishment this year is our implementation of Domestic Reduced Vertical Separation Minimums or DRVSM. This is a tremendous boost to air traffic capacity because it essentially doubles capacity at high altitudes, adding six cruising altitudes or jet lanes above 29,000 feet. The procedure permits controllers to reduce minimum vertical separation at altitudes between 29,000 and 41,000 feet from 2000 feet to 1000 feet for aircraft that are equipped with dual altimeter systems and autopilots. Not only does this double the capacity options for controllers and pilots, but the higher altitude routes are more fuel efficient. We estimate the DRVSM will save airlines approximately $5 billion through 2016, an estimate that will prove to be conservative if fuel prices remain high. Another major initiative is the expanding implementation of Area Navigation (RNAV) procedures to additional airports. RNAV procedures have been implemented and are performing successfully at Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and Dulles airports. Just last month, 13 RNAV departure procedures went into full operation at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport – the world’s busiest airport. These procedures provide flight path guidance incorporated in taxi procedures, with minimal instructions required during departure by air traffic controllers. This significantly reduces routine controller-pilot communications, allowing more time on frequency for pilots and controllers to handle other safety-critical flight activities. Key benefits of the RNAV procedures include more efficient use of airspace, with improved flight profiles, resulting in significant fuel efficiencies to the airlines. RNAV procedures are scheduled for implementation at Dallas-Ft. Worth airport this year as well. Another technological innovation, known as Required Navigation Procedure or RNP, promises to add to capacity. RNP is on-board technology that allows pilots to fly more direct point-to-point routes reliably and accurately. RNP give pilots not only lateral guidance, but vertical precision as well, and the system is highly precise and accurate. RNP reaches all domains of flight – departure, en route, and arrival. This not only will allow more efficient airspace management, but also provide savings in fuel costs for the airlines. For example, in January 2005, in partnership with Alaska Airlines, we implemented new RNP approach procedures at Palm Springs International Airport, which is located in very mountainous terrain. Under the previous conventional procedures, planes could not land unless the ceiling was at least 2,300 feet. With the new RNP procedures, approved air carriers can now operate to a ceiling of 684 feet, which allows much better access during bad weather. Additionally, RNP has enabled aircraft to cut significant mileage out of their flight path into Palm Springs – nearly 30 miles – which translates into substantial fuel savings for operators. The U.S. is leading the world in RNP, by issuing the first set of criteria and standards in this area in the very near future. Boeing and Airbus support RNP, and our standards are being embraced in Europe, Asia and South America, and by our neighbors to the north in Canada. In addition, we improved communication among the system users and the FAA. Airlines agreed to improve their input to the FAA’s flight schedule monitor system using new software so that it will more accurately reflect the latest airline schedule plans. This move minimizes unused airport capacity when flights are rescheduled or cancelled. Also, airlines are encouraged to file flight plans earlier, allowing for more time to address potential congestion problems. In addition, our relationship with the air carriers who participate in our daily conference calls is genuinely cooperative, reflecting our common understanding that we all have a stake in the process. The conference calls – scheduled every 2 hours during the busiest portion of the day -- also provide an opportunity for feedback. Customers let us know if they believe they were disadvantaged by a prior day’s delay reduction measures or offer ideas on how we can all improve the system. We all know that continued cooperation is essential to the success of our spring and summer airspace management plans. Delays are bad for business, regardless of whether you are a large, legacy carrier, a low-cost carrier or a regional airline. I’d like to take a moment to recognize this Committee’s role in addressing system capacity constraints. With the passage of Vision 100 – Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act, you provided the FAA and DOT with additional tools to address unexpected challenges that threaten to reduce capacity or cause delay at critical chokepoints. We must be ready to react to situations when they unfold. For example, the authority provided by Vision 100 enabled us to take initial action last year at Chicago O’Hare International Airport to address over-scheduling by air carriers and the resultant excessive delays that affected the entire National Airspace System. As you know, two major carriers, American Airlines and United Airlines, have hubs at O’Hare. The competition for market share is compounded by the obvious physical limitation on the number of planes that can take off and land during any time period. Moreover, it has been well demonstrated over the years that delays at O’Hare have the potential to cause delays at as many as 40 other airports nationwide. Consequently, managing delays at O’Hare is essential to the effective management of air traffic nationally. In November 2003, major delays began occurring as a result of steady increases in flights, as O’Hare’s slot rules phased out, and a shift by American Airlines of flights from St. Louis to O’Hare. Vision 100 enabled us to take action. Early last year, Secretary Mineta and I asked United and American to make a voluntary 5 percent schedule reduction during peak travel times. This voluntary reduction took effect March 4, 2004. American and United further agreed to reduce their overall peak-hour schedules by another 2.5 percent by June 10, 2004. This voluntary agreement was extended through last summer, as negotiations between the FAA and all airlines serving O’Hare continued in an effort to craft a more comprehensive plan to reduce flight delays, and one which treated all air carriers serving O’Hare fairly. Eventually, in August 2004, a voluntary agreement for schedule reductions during peak hours was reached involving all airlines currently serving O’Hare, and which allowed some leeway for new entrant carriers as well. This agreement took effect in November, and in March 2005 was extended through October 29, 2005. At the same time we extended the agreement, we also published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which proposes options to address congestion at O’Hare for the next three years. By that time, if approved by FAA, O’Hare’s proposed Modernization Project or a reasonable alternative to that project could provide additional airport capacity. Since the voluntary agreement took effect last November, O’Hare’s on-time arrival performance has improved by more than 10 percent, and overall delay minutes from November through this past February have been cut by 22 percent, as compared to the previous year. We estimate that maintaining limits on the number of arrivals through April 2008 will result in a reduction in delays at O’Hare, and save airlines and passengers over $700 million lost through delays as compared to November 2003. As noted above, the proposed rule is timed to expire as airport capacity improvements are expected to take hold. Under the terms of the NPRM, we will review every six months the level and length of delays and other operating conditions, to determine if the airport can accommodate more arrivals. If additional capacity becomes available while the rule is in effect, we propose a method to assign the additional capacity to air carriers interested in initiating or expanding service at O’Hare. We partner with airports to address capacity and delay concerns and we support implementation of solutions with funding from the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). By the end of 2008, eight new runway projects are scheduled for commissioning. These include new runways at: Minneapolis-St. Paul; Cincinnati; St. Louis; Atlanta; Boston; Charlotte; and Seattle, and a runway extension at Philadelphia. Beyond 2008, we are working with other airports to increase capacity. We recently announced our final Record of Decision for Los Angeles, which will permit the airfield reconfiguration project to go forward. We continue to maintain and monitor the schedule for the Environmental Impact Statement at Chicago as well. We are also working closely with Fort Lauderdale on a major runway extension, and three major metropolitan areas Chicago, Las Vegas, and San Diego who are considering the need for new airports. We are supporting, through AIP funding, the preparation of regional studies in the New York Metropolitan area and the LA Basin. While new runway construction typically provides the largest increase in capacity, there are new technologies and procedural improvements, such as Traffic Management Advisor (TMA) and Precision Runway Monitor (PRM), which add capacity, as well. TMA is a tool that assists the air traffic controller to sequence and schedule aircraft to the runway to maximize airport and terminal airspace capacity without compromising safety. PRM approaches have been implemented at San Francisco, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Minneapolis-St. Paul, and are planned for Atlanta and St. Louis. PRM allows air traffic controllers to run simultaneous operations on closely spaced parallel runways. It should be noted that increases in capacity from new runway construction often cannot be fully realized unless implemented along with new procedures and technology. As with other networks that experience peak period demand surges, congestion management, such as congestion pricing, could be an option at a small number of airports where demand may come to exceed capacity in the short term, pending capacity expansion, or in the long term if capacity expansion is not a practical option. In FY 2004, the FAA completed a study analyzing system capacity, taking into account the socio-economic and demographic trends expected to occur in the United States through 2020. This study expanded the focus of the 35 OEP airports and evaluated nearly 300 commercial service airports nationwide. This study identified airports and metropolitan areas expected to have significant growth in population and/or income that could result in an increase in the demand for air transportation that may not have been previously anticipated. The study identified the airports that need additional capacity and any constraints to enhancing capacity. Without capacity improvements at airports in these areas, this demand may go unsatisfied. In FY 2005, the FAA will complete a second phase of this study that will take a more detailed look at the non-OEP airports and will begin to identify possible solutions to increase long-term capacity We must also make sure we are using the best technology to maintain a safe and efficient air traffic system. One example of this is the Wide Area Augmentation System, known as WAAS. WAAS is a precise navigation system that enhances the satellite signals from the Global Positioning System (GPS) to provide the accuracy and reliability necessary for pilots to rely on GPS during flight. Because the system is satellite-based, WAAS procedures cost a lot less to implement and maintain than traditional ground-based navigation systems. WAAS makes more airspace usable to pilots, provides more direct en route paths, and provides new precision approach services to runway ends. The implementation of WAAS into the NAS will result in safety and capacity improvements. Since WAAS became operational in July 2003, the FAA has developed 3,000 WAAS approaches. This is a significant accomplishment in modernizing how we use our airspace, and one which will have a lasting, positive effect on capacity. In the longer term, however, we know that these short and mid-term efforts will simply not be enough. The recent FAA aviation forecast provides further evidence that our current system, already coming under stress in some areas, will be stretched to its limit as future demands continue to grow. Passenger totals are expected to exceed one billion by 2015, and we project up to a tripling of passengers, operations and cargo by the year 2025. As Secretary Mineta said in a speech before the Aero Club in January 2004: “The changes that are coming are too big, too fundamental for incremental adaptations of the infrastructure. We need to modernize and transform our air transportation system – starting right now.” Our overarching goal in the Next Generation initiative is to develop a system that will be flexible enough to accommodate very light jets and large commercial aircraft, manned or unmanned air vehicles, small airports and large, business and vacation travelers alike, and to handle up to three times the number of operations that the current system does with no diminution in safety, security and efficiency. At the same time, the system would minimize the impact of aviation on the environment. However, the move to a modern, efficient and technology-driven aviation system is going to require sustained, long term investments. The problem we face is that the status of the Aviation Trust Fund, which supports these investments, is inextricably tied to the fortunes of the aviation industry. Policy makers need to know that there is a gap that exists between our revenue and expenses, and this gap is quickly eroding the Trust Fund. The FAA needs a stable source of funding that is based both on our costs and the services we provide so that we can meet our mission in an extremely dynamic business environment. Tying fees to the cost of providing service protects both FAA and the customers who use FAA services by not subjecting our ability to provide a critical level of service to unrelated factors like ticket prices. A stable, cost-based revenue stream can also ensure funding for long-term capital needs. We also believe that a cost-based revenue structure would provide incentives to our customers to use resources efficiently and to the FAA to operate more efficiently, as stakeholder involvement can help us ensure that we are concentrating on services that the customer wants and is willing to pay for. Mr. Chairman, with a comprehensive plan in place, cooperative initiatives underway, and thanks to the tools provided to us by this Committee, we are ready for the spring and summer travel season. This completes my statement. I will be happy to answer your questions at this time.
Mr. Amr A. ElSawySenior Vice President and General ManagerMITRE Corporation
STATEMENT OF AMR A. ELSAWY
BEFORE THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND
TRANSPORTATION, SUBCOMMITTEE ON AVIATION,
ON AVIATION CAPACITY AND CONGESTION CHALLENGES –
SUMMER 2005 AND FUTURE DEMAND
26 MAY 2005
Mr. Chairman, Senator Rockefeller, and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to appear before your Committee. My name is Amr ElSawy and I am a Senior Vice President at the MITRE Corporation. I am also the General Manager of MITRE’s Center for Advanced Aviation System Development (CAASD), which is the FAA’s Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC). I would ask that my statement be included in the record. In addressing the committee today, I will focus on four topics: Traffic and delay trends, factors contributing to the increased system complexity, how the aviation community is responding, and finally specific actions that we must pursue in order to meet the forecasted demand and maintain global leadership in aviation safety, capacity and efficiency. Traffic levels and delays have returned to levels seen prior to 9/11 in many areas of the country. These areas include airports in Chicago, Atlanta, the Washington area, the New York area, Las Vegas, and South Florida. There have also been increases in traffic in smaller airports in many areas of the country. Examples include Scottsdale, Teterboro, and West Palm Beach. Traffic in major en route corridors is also generating congestion not just due to higher traffic volume, but also as a result of increasing traffic pattern complexity. The following factors have created challenges that are different than those experienced in 1999 and 2000. For example:
· Regional jets have replaced larger jets and turboprop aircraft resulting in different traffic flows and mix which require changes in operational techniques and strategies.
· North/south traffic flows have increased in the winter months changing how traffic flows must be managed around ceiling and visibility constraints. Unscheduled traffic has grown in South Florida and the Southwest.
· For the coming summer season, traffic growth is expected at Houston, and the NAS will face its usual severe convective weather challenges.
· Traffic increases in areas such as New York and Washington with airports in close proximity to each other resulted in greater complexity due to traffic climbing, descending, and crossing other traffic in the same airspace.
· Denser overhead traffic streams in areas such as the Chicago/New York corridor create challenges in merging the departing aircraft into already full traffic streams.
· Increased security operations (such as Combat Air Patrol and Temporary Flight Restrictions) have also generated challenges in accommodating higher volume and more complex traffic around restricted areas such as within the New York and Washington airspace, as well as during major events. The FAA and aviation community have responded to these new challenges in such a way that performance across the NAS is good by most measures:
· The airport and customer community and the FAA worked together on actions to minimize delays resulting from major growth at Chicago’s O’Hare and Washington’s Dulles airport. Emerging issues resulting from growth at airports such as Fort Lauderdale and Las Vegas are being actively worked.
· The FAA, the airports, and lead carriers have increased airport capacity through the development of new arrival and departure procedures that use aircraft navigation capabilities. For example, new area navigation (RNAV) departure procedures were implemented at Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport. In addition, new procedures are being implemented at Dulles, Las Vegas, Portland, Philadelphia, Dallas Fort Worth, and South Florida.
· Airspace changes have also been worked collaboratively to relieve congestion points in new “hot-spots” such as South Florida. In addition, the vertical separation minima have been successfully reduced in high altitude airspace and are providing controllers with more flexibility to move the traffic.
· The FAA has been continually refining procedures and actions in conjunction with the customer community to manage traffic flows to minimize delays when congestion does occur.
· The FAA worked in collaboration with organizations that provide flight services for unscheduled operations to receive more timely and more accurate information on planned flights. Beyond this year, commercial and general aviation will continue to see changes. The NAS will likely continue to see traffic growth, changes in the traffic patterns between major airports and metropolitan areas, and changes in the mix of aircraft that make up the traffic. In addition, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), very light jets, and commercial space launches will need to be accommodated in the NAS, with each bringing their own challenges for the operation of airspace, controller workload, system complexity, and overall operational productivity. Projections developed by DOT, FAA and MITRE (and documented in the Capacity Needs in the National Airspace System) indicate that by 2013, 16 airports and 7 metropolitan areas will need additional capacity to meet expected demand. In order to meet the challenges of the future, the FAA and the aviation community need to be flexible and agile in adapting to changing requirements and demands. We must implement changes in technology, procedures, avionics, and policy that can - together - increase operational efficiency and productivity. We believe that the following actions will be required to achieve those goals:
· Take advantage of aircraft capabilities and avionics to implement the Roadmap for Performance-based Navigation. This is a most significant change because it is equivalent to adding precise navigation lanes in the sky without requiring ground based equipment. Moving to a performance based system will transform the way the National Airspace System (NAS) operates. By taking advantage of the aircraft’s flight management systems and avionics, Area Navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) procedures lead to safety, efficiency and capacity improvements, especially in complex and congested airspace such as Atlanta, and the Eastern United States. Over 200 procedures are being planned for implementation over the next few years. The initial RNP procedure implementations will be in New York’s Kennedy, Reagan National, and Houston airports. FAA is addressing key challenges to ensure these procedures are implemented expeditiously by streamlining both FAA and industry processes. This will provide direct operating benefits to customers and will enable the FAA to reduce the size, complexity, and cost of its infrastructure through selective divestments of ground-based navigation aids.
· Accelerate the implementation of Airspace changes to be more flexible, and to accommodate the expected growth in traffic and new airspace users such as UAVs. Again this has the real effect of streamlining traffic flows into congested areas and providing more efficient arrival and departure paths for all users.
· Emphasize enhancement of automation and decision support tools to enable controllers to handle more traffic by presenting them with automated-conflict free resolutions, thereby increasing system capacity and productivity and improving safety and the quality of service provided to customers.
· Develop a firm plan for the implementation of air/ground data link that will enable controllers and pilots, and their respective ground and onboard aircraft automation systems, to exchange digital messages that yield efficiency, productivity, and safety improvements.
· Improve traffic flow management capabilities, such as access to more timely and accurate information (e.g., for unscheduled flights), will permit the FAA to identify and solve congestion problems more quickly and efficiently.
· Transition to Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast – This is equivalent to providing pilots with electronic eyes in the sky and will permit the FAA to migrate to a less costly and more accurate surveillance system. By relying on aircraft avionics and the power of satellite navigation, we can improve situational awareness for pilots, allowing better access and effective communication about weather and terrain. We can also achieve capacity and performance under instrument flight rules (IFR), which are only possible today under visual flight rules (VFR). The positive experience and results shown by the Capstone Phase I program in Alaska are achievable in rest of the United States.
· Use advanced simulation technologies to train the new controller workforce. This will reduce the time and cost needed to train controllers and will improve trainee proficiency and readiness to implement advanced concepts of operation.
· Maintain a strategic view of investments in airport infrastructure and runways. We must continue to build runways and improve taxiways to stay ahead of the demand.
· Develop a comprehensive air traffic infrastructure consolidation plan.
· Develop and implement polices that enable enhanced access to airports through the use of modern and improved avionics and procedures instead of ground based infrastructure. These actions will position us to meet ever increasing demands and have the potential for improving overall productivity between 20 and 40 percent while reducing future operating costs by several hundred million dollars per year. Over the next year, MITRE will be working with FAA’s ATO and JPDO to simulate and validate the productivity and cost saving estimates. Implementing these changes will keep the United States as innovators and leaders of the Global aviation community. We have a lot of opportunities ahead. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would be happy to answer questions.