The FAA is developing
a project called the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).
· What are the goals of NextGen, and how does it seek to improve
future aviation operations in the NAS?
· How do UAS fit into this vision for the future keeping in mind
the research you have done on Detect, Sense, and Avoid requirements, and Lost
· What human factors issues or challenges do you foresee with the
implementation of NextGen and the integration of UAS?
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Next
Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is the new generation of
aviation that is shifting to smarter, satellite-based and digital technologies
and new procedures that combine to make air travel more convenient,
predictable, and environmentally friendly (“Next Generation Air
Transportation System (NextGen) | Department of Transportation,”). This
involves air carriers saving minutes and fuel, and also reducing aircraft
exhaust emissions by taking advantage of more precise routing. The NextGen
seeks to enhance real-time data sharing and digital communication capabilities,
improve situational awareness in the cockpit, streamline traffic flows in the
air and on the ground at the busiest airports, and finally to provide more
efficient and flexible oceanic airspace.
UAS’s have a place in the NextGen system and can incorporate
some of the same technologies that are used for the general aviation sector.
The Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), is the NextGen
successor to radar. ADS-B uses GPS satellites to determine the aircrafts
location, ground speed, and other data as well as providing traffic and weather
information directly to the cockpits. The advanced surveillance technology of
the ADS-B combines the aircrafts positioning source, aircraft avionics, and a
ground infrastructure in order to create an accurate surveillance interface
between aircraft and air traffic control. This switch from radar-based systems
to a satellite-derived aircraft location system, which is a performance-based
surveillance technology, is more precise than radar and can be implemented into
the UAS sector (“NextGen – Automatic Dependent
This move from ground-based surveillance and navigation to a
more dynamic and accurate airborne-based system and procedures will enhance
capacity, reduce delay, and improve environmental performance. However, there
is the inherent human factor element that could pose challenges or create
issues when implementing NextGen and integrating UAS’s. One human factor issue
or challenge that may arise is international harmonization. The technical
standards and requirements may be exclusive of, and not harmonized with, ICAO
and international efforts in countries like Europe, Australia, and Canada.
There is a clear need for global interoperability which can be achieved through
the continued development of standards for equipment, application, flight
procedures, and operating rules.
Another human factor issue or challenge related to NextGen and
the integration of UAS is surface management. A critical element of managing an
on-time airport in some of the busiest in the country involves managing arrival
and departures combined with efficient and safe movement on the airport
surface. Implementing surface initiatives should be a high priority throughout
all air traffic organizations and should have a coordinated plan to assist in
interoperability (“NextGen – Surface Management at John F. Kennedy
International Airport (JFK),” n.d.). Related to this issue is the
responsibility of the FAA to resolve key organizational, policy, and training
barriers that will impede implementation of the NextGen system. This involves
streamlining their process to develop key policies and procedures for a
seamless integration across the country. Training controllers on new advanced
procedures is a key element in a successful NextGen integration otherwise
controller may be reluctant to allow pilots to use these procedures.
Automatic dependent surveillance–broadcast (ADS-B) out
performance requirements to support air traffic control (ATC) service. (2010). (). Lanham: Federal Information & News
Dispatch, Inc. Retrieved from
The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) |
Department of Transportation. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) – Delivering
NextGen. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.faa.gov/nextgen/delivering/
NextGen – Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast. (n.d.).
Retrieved from https://www.faa.gov/nextgen/update/progress_and_plans/adsb/
NextGen – NextGen Update: 2016. (n.d.). Retrieved from
NextGen – Surface Management at John F. Kennedy International
Airport (JFK). (n.d.). Retrieved from