National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen told members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation’s Subcommittee on Aviation and Space this week that full implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is critical to maintaining America’s lead in global aviation – a shared priority for all stakeholders, including business aviation.
“The United States has the world’s largest, safest, most efficient and most diverse aviation system, supporting more than 200,000 general aviation aircraft,” said Bolen. “However, to maintain our leadership, we must continually modernize the ATC [air traffic control] system. This imperative to modernize is why NBAA has taken a leadership role in partnering with the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] to advance our shared modernization goals. With more than 1.1 million jobs and $219 billion in annual economic impact tied to general aviation, our industry is committed to growing and moving forward.”
Business aviation serves small towns and rural communities across the country, and can reach more than 5,000 public-use airports, Bolen explained. NBAA is a key stakeholder in the ATC system, and with its 11,000 member companies delivers a unique perspective on NextGen.
NextGen modernization is producing significant results, already delivering $4.7 billion in benefits to the aviation system, Bolen noted. But, with air traffic controllers projected to handle nearly 16 million more aircraft by 2040, and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) capacity forecast to grow significantly in the next five years, Bolen said that there is still much to achieve.
This includes full equipage of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) by the FAA’s Jan. 1, 2020, deadline. Bolen told the subcommittee that NBAA has launched a targeted campaign to business aviation to highlight the critical importance of meeting the ADS-B equipage deadline. “Our work has paid off, with nearly 70-percent of turbojet and turboprop business aircraft now ADS-B equipped according to the FAA’s Equip 2020 working group, an increase of nearly 15-percent since the beginning of this year,” reported Bolen.
NBAA also continues to work with the FAA on the privacy and security implications of ADS-B’s real-time tracking of general aviation, and looks forward to a solution that will provide ATC and other government stakeholders all needed tracking information, while safeguarding real-time movements from public view. “We appreciate the FAA’s work on this project and look forward to a solution in the coming months,” noted Bolen.
Congressional support of NextGen is critical to its success, and passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 highlighted Congress’s leadership in providing certainty and the needed investments for the aviation industry to be successful, said Bolen.
However, NextGen needs funding protection from the negative effects of government shutdowns, which can halt progress and introduce months of delays to modernization efforts. To mitigate these adverse effects, NBAA supports the Aviation Funding Stability Act of 2019, a law that will permit FAA the use of funds from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund during lapses in government funding, Bolen told the subcommittee members.
“NBAA has always been steadfast in its support and advancement of NextGen technologies that allow equal and fair access to airports and airspace for all aviation stakeholders, and this hearing provides an important opportunity to review our progress,” Bolen concluded.
Read Bolen’s complete testimony.