By Glenn Pew, Contributing Editor
With a Nov. 18 executive order published Thursday, President George W. Bush has dictated policy designed to drive “effective implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen)” and sets its first deadline “not later than 60 days after the date of this order,” or roughly when President-elect Barack Obama takes office. (That point is not lost on AOPA.) The 60-day deadline is for establishment of a DOT support staff. It is followed 120 days later by a second deadline that dictates establishment of an advisory committee to provide advice concerning implementation of policy to the Secretary of Transportation. As for the policy itself, the order states, “it is the policy of the United States to establish and maintain” an air transport system that meets the present and future “needs” of the Unites States. However, executive orders of an outgoing President can be reviewed by the incoming administration and President-elect Obama’s “can be expected to review” and “may rescind or replace” this or other Bush administration orders at its discretion, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
AOPA is positioning itself to work with the incoming administration to identify the real benefits of NextGen for general aviation — and this angle may be the key behind whether Joe the pilot wants to pay for avionics upgrades or make do with what he and the national infrastructure already has in place. NextGen relies on a combination of ground, cockpit and satellite-based hardware and technology to bring an infusion of situational and traffic awareness, safety, flexibility and autonomy to pilots in the cockpit. At this time, however, AOPA contends that even industry insiders are “are not entirely clear what NextGen entails.” We understand it has something to do with the future of air traffic control.