June 6, 2014

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen served as moderator for a high-profile gathering of aviation professionals about progress toward the implementation of the Next Generation (NextGen) air transportation system.

As chairman of RTCA, Bolen introduced speakers and panels at the start of the two-day RTCA 2014 Global Aviation Symposium in Washington, DC, which ran June 4 and 5, and served as moderator of a panel featuring industry technology, analysis and policy experts, who sit on the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC) established by the FAA.

He also served as emcee at the RTCA Symposium awards luncheon, and used his dual role as RTCA chairman and the business aviation representative on the NAC to provide the business aviation community’s views in the dialogue about NextGen implementation efforts.

While leading the panel’s discussion on “View from the NAC: Setting NextGen on a Positive Trajectory,” Bolen said: “From the business aviation perspective, we believe that capacity is really important, because when airports get too crowded, we [in business aviation] tend to get pushed out. We remember when Midway, among others, was a great general aviation airport.”

Bolen went on to note: “One of the greatest strengths is the diversity of our aviation system, despite the system shocks of recent years, from the economic meltdown, high fuel prices and even a government shutdown.”

Bolen praised the spirit of collaboration that exists today between the FAA and members of the NAC, “which truly reflects the diversity of the aviation community and brings the operators’ perspectives to the discussions about NextGen priorities.”

He said he agreed with opening speaker Bill Ayer, current chair of the NAC, and retired chairman and CEO of Alaska Airlines, that there is a “new sense of optimism” about where the industry is heading on NextGen.

Prompted by questions from Bolen, panel members said that NextGen’s priority emphasis on enhanced navigation capabilities, surveillance systems and other initiatives, combined with operational improvements, will reduce congestion at airports and continue to strengthen U.S. aviation safety.

Panelists included Carl Esposito, vice president, marketing & product management, Honeywell Aerospace; John Hickey, FAA deputy associate administrator for aviation safety; Jim Rankin, president and CEO, Air Wisconsin; and Lillian Z. Ryals, SVP, MITRE Corporation and General Manager Center for Advanced Aviation System Development (CAASD).

The RTCA event also included industry and FAA experts on panels discussing their perspectives on NextGen implementation, operational lessons learned from implementation of new performance-based navigation procedures, challenges of increased integration of communications, navigation, surveillance and air traffic management systems.