2014 Budget Request: FAA NextGen

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The fiscal 2014 budget request the Obama administration sent to Congress April 10 includes a nearly 4 percent increase to funding for the Federal Aviation Administration air traffic modernization effort known as NextGen.

FAA budget documentation (.pdf) shows the administration requesting $1.02 billion for NextGen, an amount 3.88 percent greater than current year levels when adjusted for White House-projected levels of inflation. NextGen overall will cost at least $40 billion.

Although an increase, the fiscal 2014 request is nearly a 21 percent inflation-adjusted decline compared to the FAA's fiscal 2013 NextGen budget request of $1.24 billion. Moreover, within the NextGen request, some programs would undergo similarly steep or greater declines should Congress approve the budget request as delivered.

The budget for DataComm, an effort to replace voice communications between pilot and air traffic controller with text messages, would go down by 20.76 percent, to $115.45 million. Difficulties in implementing software for controlling high altitude air traffic known as En Route Automation Modernization has led the FAA to delay DataComm by 2 years, according to an August 2012 report from the Transportation Department office of inspector general.

Funding for future facilities planning would also decrease substantially, by 72.14 percent to $10 million, a reverse that would bring funding for the effort to less than the fiscal 2012 amount, when it received $15 million. In June 2012, FAA Chief Operating Officer David Grizzle warned a congressional panel that NextGen "fundamentally relies on the agency's ability to optimize our facilities and workforce," and that the agency was already late in consolidating some facilities.

Money for many NextGen efforts would increase under the budget proposal relative to current year levels, however. An ERAM improvement known as the D Position Upgrade would increase by 536 percent under the budget request, for example.

For more:
- download the FAA fiscal 2014 budget estimate (.pdf)

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