Press Release Article


Date: Feb 25, 2009
Press Release Number: 26-2009

A Port Authority-led coalition featuring an unprecedented array of business, travel, tourism and airline officials met in New York City this morning, urging full funding for NextGen initiatives to overhaul the country's air traffic control system and significantly reduce delays that plague the nation's air travelers.

The National Alliance to Advance NextGen is composed of nearly 100 organizations representing millions of people. It called for an FAA Reauthorization Bill that includes the billions of dollars necessary to advance, install and operate NextGen technology as quickly as possible, and to do so in the New York metropolitan region first to provide the most widespread benefit, as studies have shown that 75 percent of the nation's air traffic delays have their genesis at one of the region's airports.

As part of the FAA Reauthorization Bill, NextGen - an advanced GPS system that helps air traffic controllers move more aircraft more efficiently - will need a long-term, multiyear commitment from Congress and the administration. Total funding is expected to require $8 billion to $10 billion for the first 10 years, and $15 billion to $22 billion through 2025.

Members of the broad-based Alliance include Accenture, Airports Council International -North America, the Greater New York Hospital Association, the Newark Regional Business Partnership, and the U.S. Travel Association.

New York Governor David A. Paterson said, "NextGen technology will usher in a new era of efficiency and profitability for the airline industry, and I urge the federal government to fully fund its implementation. During a time of unprecedented economic challenges, we cannot afford to have one of our state's and our country's key industries hampered by delays. As a matter of convenience, as a matter of economics and as a matter of safety, we must bring air traffic control into the 21st century."

New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine said, "Embracing 21st century technology is key for numerous reasons, first and foremost being the safety and comfort of air travelers coming into our nation's airports. And considering that airports in New Jersey and New York serve as a gateway to the nation's commerce, there is a real national interest in getting this system implemented as soon as feasible."

"Every day that passes without federal action on NextGen costs our region time, money, and a competitive edge," Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said. "We're spending billions to upgrade our terminals and runways and we're counting on the federal government to match our commitment by overhauling the 1950s-era air traffic control system."

"Flight delays are hurting our economy at a time when we can least afford it. There are no panaceas to this problem, but NextGen is as close as they come and we all must urge the federal government to implement it immediately," Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward said.

"It's unacceptable to have an air traffic control system in 2009 that continues to rely on technology developed in the first half of the last century," Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Susan Bass Levin said. "We've figured out a way to use global positioning satellite systems to guide cars on roadways. It's long past the time that we did the same to move aircraft more efficiently through the skies."

"We can accelerate the transformation of our air traffic control system or risk losing our leadership role in global aviation," said Air Transport Association President and CEO James C. May. "The FAA and Congress must accelerate NextGen now in order to achieve the economic and environmental benefits deserved by passengers, shippers, our communities, and our country."

"Air travelers cannot continue to be subject to countless hours wasted on air traffic delays," said David Stempler, President of the Air Travelers Association. "With NextGen, we have the technology to fix this nation's air traffic control system and free the flying public from delays, and we urge decisive action from Congress and the FAA to make it a reality for passengers."

"Congestion delays are among our top concerns," said Michael Cintron of the International Airline Passengers Association. "Safety, service and environment are critical to our 400,000 frequent flyer members, and full funding and implementation of NextGen technology will bring us closer to the comprehensive solution our travelers deserve."

NextGen will reduce air traffic congestion by utilizing satellite communication technology to inform air traffic controllers and pilots of the exact location of aircraft. The technology works like an advanced GPS system to help air traffic controllers space aircraft adequately, utilizing digitally broadcast information about each aircraft's position, altitude, direction of movement, and horizontal and vertical speed. This information is combined with overlays of weather conditions and topographic maps to produce detailed pictures of the surrounding airspace. Air traffic controllers and pilots can move aircraft into and out of airports more expeditiously and are able to identify potential problems quickly and safely.

NextGen technology already is being used successfully all over the world, including here in the United States by the United Parcel Service in Kentucky, by small aircraft in Alaska, and by helicopters serving oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Members of the Alliance are: