Bolen’s Comments form First Step in Consensus on NextGen?

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ARTICLE: NBAA’s Bolen Urges Thoughtful Approach to ‘NextGen’ Aviation Funding

7113nbaa4NextGen is a concept upon which everyone can agree on a macro basis, but when the discussion points to some specifics, the apparent consensus disintegrates. Congress is not likely to make critical policy determinations without a single industry proposal with minimal dissent.

The best term to describe the current status is inertia. Without some effort to identify points of concurrence, little real progress is going to be measured. Further, the FAA is likely to continue to meander towards ill-defined technical and funding goals.

In that context, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) and Airline Pilots Association International (ALPA) should be commended for sponsoring a symposium on NextGen efforts in the uncertain funding environment. The panelists included Airlines for America’s (A4A’s) Nicholas Calio, ALPA’s Captain Lee Moak, NATCA’s Paul Rinaldi, National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA’s) Ed Bolen, Regional Airline Association’s (RAA’s) Roger Cohen and Reason Foundation’s Robert Poole.

The dialogue captured a few broad points of agreement. The NBAA statement did not mention discussion on specific systems. Its review of the panel did reflect one point of disagreement on funding between Mr. Poole, on the one hand, and two panelists (ALPA and NBAA).

Bolen is reported to have said that the stakeholders need to exert care recommending funding and other structural reforms to the world’s leading aviation system. He elaborated on this theme in the following quote:

“We have seen many economic, social and global challenges over the past 15 to 20 years, and we have continued as the leader of the world’s largest, most diverse and sophisticated air transportation system… We need to be careful that we preserve what makes the U.S. aviation system so great and unique.”

Bolen’s suggestion that agreeing upon what needs to be preserved seems to be an excellent first iteration in some NextGen decisional process. If consensus on a Bolen list of aviation essentials can be reached, that foundation may facilitate the resolution of what NextGen should incorporate, what the stakeholders can/should pay for and what process should be used to reach some conclusions.

The comments of Messrs. Calio and Moak seemed to align with Mr. Bolen’s articulation of those broad parameters. That is encouraging.

A first step to break inertia? What will be the next catalyst?

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