The Transportation Department's inspector general recently said the implementation of an advanced system to help manage air traffic — which the watchdog warned in a previous report could fall short of capabilities, go over budget and over schedule — is still at risk.
The Transportation Department watchdog said it will review why some major airlines and their pilots are not using performance-based navigation- which is part of the Federal Aviation Administration's NextGen initiative- even though it can deliver significant benefits.
While some lawmakers find the Federal Aviation Administration's implementation of key 2020 NextGen program milestones slow, the Transportation Department's Inspector General says it's not due to inadequate funding.
The Federal Aviation Administration lacks the necessary authority to create an incentive program that encourages pilots to equip aircraft with technology critical to the success of FAA's 2020 NextGen program.
The nationwide ground infrastructure necessary for air traffic controllers to see airplanes according to their GPS-transmitted location is now complete, says the Federal Aviation Administration.
NextGen funding at the Federal Aviation Administration would drop from $901 million to $836 million under the Transportation Department's budget proposal for fiscal 2015.
Auditors say the Federal Aviation Administration's enterprise architecture is limited as a strategic planning tool guiding air traffic control modernization efforts known as NextGen.
NextGen improvements so far resulted in reductions in fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emission and are expected to reduce delays by about 41 percent by 2020, Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta told a House panel.
Transportation Department auditors are now saying the Federal Aviation Administration will "not likely be ready" to mandate by 2020 use of avionics allowing airplane pilots to see in real-time their position and the location of other airplanes. That assessment comes in a Jan. 28 audit (.pdf) that's slightly more pessimistic than a September 2013 preliminary version in which auditors said the FAA "may not be ready."
Avionics allowing airplane pilots to see in real-time their position and the location of other airplanes may not be ready by 2020, says the Transportation Department office of inspector general in a Sept. 17 letter. ADS-B In technical requirements "are not mature and continue to evolve," auditors say. "As a result, it is uncertain when the advanced capabilities of ADS-B can be implemented and at what cost," they add.