Committee Examines Impact of FAA’s 2020 NextGen Mandate on General Aviation

FAA Administrator Huerta Testifies on Challenges and Benefits for Small Businesses

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Washington, Jun 11 | comments
The House Small Business Committee, chaired by Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), today examined the challenges and benefits of the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2020 NextGen mandate for general aviation small businesses.

In an effort to modernize the nation’s aviation surveillance system, as part of its NextGen initiative, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has mandated that by January 2020 all aircraft operating in certain airspace be equipped with advanced technology systems. This hearing will examine the benefits of the 2020 mandate to the General Aviation (GA) industry, challenges GA may face in complying with the mandate, and the importance of both incentivizing and ensuring widespread adoption. 

“The FAA’s 2020 NextGen initiative is an ambitious effort to improve the safety and reliability of air travel through the use of available technologies,” said Chairman Graves, a pilot who also co-chairs the House General Aviation Caucus. “General Aviation plays a vital part in the nation’s commerce, creating jobs while directly and indirectly supporting thousands of small businesses. We commend the FAA’s NextGen initiative goals of reducing congestion and improving safety, but recognize the 2020 mandate creates challenges that could act as barriers to widespread general aviation adoption. We appreciated today’s testimony from FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, owners of general aviation small businesses and leaders of industry.”

Materials from the hearing are available on the Committee’s website HERE.

Notable Quotes:

Michael P. Huerta, Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration, Washington, DC, said, “We are confident that users of the [National Airspace System], including the general aviation community, will see the advantages to ADS-B as they continue to equip and begin using the technology it offers. But, we also realize that increased technology generally requires increased investment for the government, private industry, which includes both large and small businesses, and individual aircraft owners. The FAA has made a significant investment in infrastructure to enable the technology being delivered through NextGen, including ADS-B. We are now calling on users of the NAS to equip their aircraft in a way that allows us to maximize the benefits of NextGen in designated airspace.”

Paula Derks, President, Aircraft Electronics Association, Lee's Summit, MO, said, “…general aviation aircraft owners are ‘on the clock’ as ADS-B installation capacity today far exceeds aircraft owner demand. This inverse relationship will not last unless the industry immediately begins to see 100 or more installs completed per day – a 25-fold increase over the current installation rate.”

Tim Taylor, President and CEO, Free Flight Systems, Inc., Irving, TX, testifying on behalf of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, said, “…the idea that has been suggested by some that equipage is going to get cheaper as we get closer to the deadline is misleading and a major reason for delay. The prices we are offering for equipage now are artificially low. FreeFlight Systems is making high-volume purchases and we have reduced our margin expectations to get products in the market at an acceptable price point. As volumes start to go up, we will not be able to hold these low prices.”

Bob Hepp, Owner, Aviation Adventures, Manassas, VA, testifying on behalf of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, said, “By creating a fund to provide low-cost guaranteed loans and leveraging existing equipment to provide benefits like improved point-to-point navigation, extended surveillance, and precision approaches at airports not currently served, the FAA can take advantage of the equipment already in cockpits, keep NextGen moving forward, and help GA businesses thrive.”

Kenneth  Button, Director, Center for Transportation, Policy, Operations and Logistics, George Mason University, Arlington, VA, said, “While the initial adoption of ADS-Out in the United States will provide only some of the potential benefits of a full ADS system it, nevertheless, will impact positively in terms of safety and more efficient use of air space… The costs to both the aviation sector and taxpayer are not small, and the expenses of retrofitting part of the general aviation fleet to meet new certification standards by 2020 are equally far from negligible.”

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