This morning I am in New York for a meeting of RTCA’s NextGen Advisory Committee–a group tasked with addressing NextGen implementation issues and making consensus recommendations to the FAA. As a member of the committee, I had a chance to make a presentation to the group about issues affecting the general aviation community.
While we come from different backgrounds–the airlines, the FAA, air traffic control, airports, military aviation, and GA–we all want to find the right path to modernize our airspace and air traffic management. At the top of our list of priorities is ensuring that we continue to have the safest aviation system in the world. And while we may differ in some areas, we are all hard at work trying to find the best solutions to the challenges of modern flying while taking full advantage of the benefits new technology has to offer.
New York is the perfect venue for today’s discussions, considering not only the busy and complex airspace in the region, but also the personal interest of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an avid general aviation pilot himself. Mayor Bloomberg hosted a breakfast at Gracie Mansion this morning, where I had a chance to chat with him, Committee Chairman and Jet Blue CEO Dave Barger, and FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Huerta, among others. Despite the many other responsibilities of each of these participants, it’s clear that they are fully committed to finding not only solutions, but the right solutions to the challenges of modernization.
Today’s discussions have been productive, but there’s much more to do, and small working groups will sort through many more details before our next full committee meeting. Many of those working groups include AOPA staffers, so you can be certain that the interests of the GA community will be considered at every step along the way.
NextGen, and the way it is implemented, will affect every single pilot–and just about every American–in the nation. It’s such a big issue, with so many technical details and practical implications, that it may sometimes seem impossible to get your arms around it. But I think it’s important to keep pilots in the loop. I want you to know that we are diligently working to resolve all the issues modernization presents, and, just as important, that we are making real progress. As always, the AOPA team is fully engaged in ensuring that–whatever final recommendations we reach–the needs of general aviation, your needs, are taken into account.