Secretary Foxx has given a number of speeches since he was sworn in (July 2, 2013 ) as the head of the multi-modal department which includes aviation. However, he has chosen to say little about aviation and/or NextGen, the DOT’s largest project . That’s consistent with the Obama Administration’s apparent disinterest in this sector of the national economy.
On February 25, the Secretary spoke at the Aero Club of Washington with some vigor on things that fly (note: it is odd that the DOT website, where such texts are normally found , has not included this important statement of policy 48 hours after its delivery). The only sources, so far, are the above two linked articles. The Secretary’s pronouncements are so significant that the results are two very different headlines.
The Hill focused on NextGen, a theme which has been sadly absent in past public statements; particularly because the DOT bully pulpit is the prime platform for developing a national consensus on this huge infrastructure project.
The Secretary talked about the negatives which would occur if NextGen was not implemented; his words:
“According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, congestion and delays at airports will cost the economy $63 billion per year by 2040,” he said. “Just to give you some points of comparison: that’s a little less than DOT’s entire annual budget; and it’s about three times more than the profits that the global airline industry is expected to take in this year. All of this is why we’ll be working with Congress, in advance of next year, to make sure that, at the very least, stable funding continues.” source
The FAA has a very complete website which describes in incredible detail the positive contributions of NextGen to the environment and the economy . (note: the FAA has a new format to its website).
AIN Online covers the Secretary more frequently and its Bill Carey reported on the Secretary’s apparent openness to ideas on ATC Privatization. He endorsed that the FAA in its present structure, but with better funding, could complete the task of implementing Nextgen. In response to a question on privatization, he is quoted as saying:
“I’ve heard from a variety of stakeholders and so I know there’s a lot of frustration that the political underpinning for our aviation system may be frayed and folks are looking for some alternatives. My feeling is that we should engage with all of the stakeholders and keep our ears and minds open to new and different ways of doing things. But we’re going to also want the stakeholder community to be as united as possible on what the outcome is, so that means labor, it means the carriers…it means manufacturers. Everybody is going to have to engage on the questions because there’s a graveyard of administrations that have tried to make game-changing moves here.”
While not fully endorsing the “spinning off” of ATO, the answer suggests that he will consider all options.
This reporter cited examples which the Secretary offered on NextGen’s positive contributions, but captured the following important comment on NextGen:
“But I’m not here to ‘spike the football’ on NextGen…There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done. We have to continue working to develop tangible outcomes that we can measure in the short term, the medium term and the long term.”