Friday, October 24, 2014
Earlier this week, FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker spoke at DePaul's College of Law in an event jointly sponsored by the International Aviation Law Institute and the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development. This was the fourth in the annual lecture series hosted by the two institutes. His comments predominantly concerned the status of the United States' Next Generation Air Traffic Management System (NextGen). Whitaker described the rollout as on-schedule, with many of the necessary upgrades to technological infrastructure already finished, or scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015. He also said that NextGen would eventually allow the FAA to assign responsibility for airspace in a manner that will allow the agency to more effectively avoid delays and shutdowns in the event of a crisis such as the one affecting the Aurora, Illinois control center late last month. The entirety of the program will take decades to implement. Details about NextGen's various components can be found in the 2014 update provided by the FAA. Whitaker also stressed the importance of international collaboration on the adoption of new technologies to ensure compatibility. Interestingly, he highlighted ICAO's role in fostering international agreement on a variety of issues, which has not always been a subject of great importance to U.S. transportation officials.