Next Generation Air Transportation System

Category: Technology

Abstract

The current paper explores Next Generation Air Transported System (NextGen) including its technologies, benefits, environmental sustainability, and challenges encountered in the implementation which leads to conclusions of some recommendations. The main purpose of the paper is to determine NextGen’s initiatives towards sustainability of the environment as a major impetus behind the project coupled with the need for efficiency in the air transport system. The major findings on technologies used is the project’s concentration on satellite-based aircraft control marked with the use of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system. Performance Based Navigation technology is also employed, which aims at reducing flight distances through direct routes thus enhancing efficiency, reducing fuel burnt and emissions such as greenhouse gases. Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions, and Noise (CLEEN), Aviation Environmental Design Tool (AEDT), Fuel-Saving Performance Based Navigation (PBN), Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) are some of the programs  undertaken by FAA to monitor the environmental impacts of NextGen. Noise pollution was reported in Phoenix as a result of the project and increased use of petroleum fuel was still present. More interventions on environmental sustainability and availing grants to innovations and proposals dealing with production of alternative drop-in jet fuels is recommended.  

Introduction

The following research paper is on Next Generation Air Transportation System usually known as NextGen. NextGen is a project initiated in 2004 to transform the National Airspace System (NAS) with its broad characteristics including human resource, airspace, physical facilities, services and processes. The current paper explores NextGen project in terms of its technologies, benefits toward environmental sustainability, challenges and criticism. Thus, on the basis of the analysis, the research draws recommendations. The paper will be presented to peers and to a professor from Engineering 100W class; the audience is fairly educated with some form of technical background. The research can be used generally to give insights, knowledge, and technical background on green air travel. Information gathered will promote NextGen’s technology to airport authorities in different countries as a way of adopting global green air travel. The paper will be divided into sub-sections including the introduction, background information, NextGen’s technologies, environmental sustainability, challenges and critiques, recommendations, and conclusion. The purpose of the paper is to explore the Next Generation Air Transport System and make recommendations on its implementation. 

Background Information 

A Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) was started in 2003 by the United States Congress to oversee the planning and harmonization of a project known as Next Generation Air Transportation System normally shortened as NextGen. The major motive behind NextGen project was a complete overhaul of the National Airspace System through a shift to an efficient satellite approach from the obsolete ground-based management of the air traffic. The project NextGen was initiated in 2004 to transform the National Airspace System (NAS) with its broad characteristics including human resource, airspace, physical facilities, services and processes. The project had several long-term goals including the deployment of new flight processes that were based on performance, efficient systems to ease air traffic controlling and the use of modern and highly sophisticated infrastructural technologies.

A plan was developed through  Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a mandate from the Congress to be used as a platform for the implementation of the project to achieve the long-term goals by 2025. The original scheme was mainly based on the set timeframe of up to 2025, but later mid-term objectives were focused on leading to another blueprint of years 2012 to 2018. The rationale behind NextGen was the creation of an efficient, safe, viable and reliable air transport system with a major goal of environmental sustainability and friendliness. Another impetus towards the project was to ease growing air traffic with a modern system of management, which would increase the nation’s economic performance through improved mobility of citizenry involved in commercial activities. The project aimed at the safe accommodation of the vast number of people flying within United States through air transport system transformation.  

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NextGen Technologies

JPDO plan comprised of three major phases mainly focusing on technologies that would help meet the growing demands for air transport and improve flight services and flexibility leading to diversification of the management system. The phases also referred to as epochs and are discussed in the following section.

Foundational Capabilities

The phase was to run from 2007 to 2011 and was tasked with the implementation of technologies such as Automatic Surveillance that  would deliver information with precision and on time to the controllers as well as to the pilots easing the management of flights. The technology is known as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and is considered as the foundation for NextGen prospects.

Hybrid System

The stage is a rollout of the years 2012 to 2018 and includes complete automation that would allow for pilot’s full and active participation as well as environmental sustainability. NASA and FAA are working collaboratively to introduce sophisticated automated air transport control system that will oversee reception of timely information on weather, air traffic and control with precision. The automation in the phase is geared towards efficient use of fuel and minimal emissions leading to less pollution. 

NextGen Operations

The stage is a planned phase of the years 2019 to 2025 tasked with expanding NextGen around the United States by increasing the complexity of the system, eased by satellite-based technologies that will have been installed. The phase will oversee full utilization of the airspace with precision. 

NextGen and Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability is the major purpose behind NextGen project. Environmental management system is a strategy being used by FAA to incorporate objectives seeking utmost environmental sustainability as NextGen progresses from stage to stage. The aim is followed by availing energy and environment objectives into NextGen’s plans, decisions and processes. 

FAA envisages NextGen’s environmental protection as a way of allowing for sustained growth of the aviation industry. Ecological aspects such as the quality of air, water, energy and climate as well as other issues such as noise are the major factors affect the environment. The aforementioned factors have intense ability to derail the development of the aviation industry, especially in terms of efficiency, capacity and advancement of technologies. When it comes to noise pollution by the aircraft industry, there is need to minimize the number of individuals affected or predisposed to such disturbances around the airports and neighborhoods. The concern calls for provisions in NextGen’s plan to ultimately address noise pollution through measures that are directed towards natural resource protection and social welfare in aviation growth. Addressing noise pollution will ensure people’s health and hence, environmental protection. 

Environmental sustainability in turn calls for measures tasked with ensuring that the quality of air is maintained with advancement in aviation technology and growth. Air quality and health are the key goals in NextGen. Sustaining healthy and clean air requires initiatives to ensure that emissions containing carbon dioxide from the aircrafts are lessened to decrease their impacts. Carbon dioxide is known to be a major cause of the global climate change. Thus, NextGen seeks to achieve growth of neutral carbon by the year 2020 with a long-term goal of reducing aircraft emissions that impacts climate by year 2050. 

The improvement of the National Airspace System also requires efficiency in energy use. NextGen vision is to reduce energy consumption by 2% every year through introduction of alternative fuel to be used by commercial aircrafts. Protection of water bodies through control measures limiting aviation discharges into United States’ waters also is the key in NextGen environmental sustainability programs.  

Advancement in aircraft technology will also bring its environmental benefits. Proper tracking of aircrafts with precision and efficiently both on the ground and in the air will result into greater saving of fuel consumed. Therefore, it will minimize emissions or pollutants such as greenhouse gases that have detrimental effects on both health of individuals and climate, and also lessen the impact of aviation on communities. Advancement of technology in NextGen is also directed towards reduction of fuel levels burnt, noise and emissions.   

All the efforts are aimed at reduction of noise pollution, dangerous emissions and minimal energy consumption as a way of sustaining the environment as discussed below.

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Next Generation Air Transportation System

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