7 FAA NextGen Programs to Watch For

We've all heard about NextGen, right? But how much do you really know about Nextgen's programs? If you haven't studied up on it yet, now is the time. NextGen, the FAA's Next Generation Air Transportation System, is a complete overhaul of the National Airspace System as we know it, and it's being implemented whether you're ready or not. Here are seven NextGen Transformational Programs you need to know about.


US Government Photo

As the backbone of NextGen, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast will replace the current outdated ground radar system. It's satellite-based, which means that ADS-B is more accurate than radar, offering more precise information regarding aircraft location, speed and flight path. ADS-B has two functions: ADS-B Out and ADS-B In. 

  • ADS-B Out: Equipped aircraft that transmit their identification, altitude, direction and speed to ATC, as well as other aircraft. ADS-B Out will be required of all aircraft in most controlled airspace by 2020.

  • ADS-B In: The cockpit display that receives the information from other aircraft's ADS-B Out technology will utilize ADS-B In technology in the form of TIS-B (Traffic Information Service Broadcast) or FIS-B (Flight Information Traffic System) cockpit displays. There are not yet any requirements to have ADS-B In.


Photo © NOAA/NASA GOES Project

NextGen Network Enabled Weather (NNEW) is an endeavor to standardize and simplify the access to weather data among aviation agencies. NNEW will be the FAA's portion of an interagency data cube called the 4-Dimensional Weather Data Cube. It is a collaborative effort involving the FAA, NOAA, DOD and commercial weather organizations.


U.S. Government Photo

System Wide Information Management (SWIM) is a data management system with a goal of compiling data and interfaces for the sake of simplifying data sharing within the NextGen program. There is a lot of information already out there, and many interfaces have already been built, but the FAA hopes to re-use and compile this information to a single location for data sharing purposes.


US Government Photo
The FAA plans to enhance the current Traffic Management System (TMS) with the Collaborative Air Traffic Management Technologies program. It includes items such as Arrival Uncertainty Management (AUM), weather integration, and re-building the hardware and software systems used by traffic planners.

Essentially, the CATMT program will help predict traffic flows and delays, and prepare for delays due to weather and other disruptive events in the air traffic system.


USAF Photo

Scheduled to be operational in 2016, the National Airspace System Voice System is a new digital networking system that will update the current voice system by replacing it with digital technology and new switches. Current switches are outdated and unsustainable, according to the FAA. The NVS will give controllers the option of communicating remotely, which means that an air traffic controller will not need to be at a particular station inside of the control tower to communicate with aircraft or other agencies.


European Union
Photo © Wikimedia/Ssolbergj

The European Union estimates that 2-3% of the world's CO2 emissions are the result of the aviation industry. While this number is relatively small, the industry expects rapid growth in the long-term.

The Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions is a continuous program between the FAA and the European Commission to reduce emissions and noise pollution. Reducing environmental effects of air transportation has become an important goal in the aviation industry today. The AIRE program aims to reduce the environmental impact of the aviation industry by utilizing new equipment, cleaner fuel, and more efficient flight paths in partnership with industry members and the European aviation industry.

AIRE partners include the FAA, Boeing, Airbus, UPS, KLM, British Aviation Authority, and NAV Portugal, to name a few.

Data Comm

US Government Photo

Data Comm is a data communications system that uses digital data in addition to, or instead of, analog voice communications. With Data Comm, controllers and pilots can communicate via computer text message instead of by voice. This means that clearances can be sent to pilots as soon as they are available, allowing for quicker retrieval and less radio congestion.

The rollout for Data Comm is still being planned, with the FAA in talks with airports and operators to determine the best method for implementation. By 2020, the FAA hopes to have the infrastructure in place for Data Comm. Of course, aircraft will also need to be appropriately equipped to utilize the service.