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FAA Issues Draft Of Its 'Flight Plan' For The Next Four Years

Also Invites Comments To Timeline For ADS-B, Other NextGen Goals

Stating "aviation is safer than ever" -- but "capacity must expand to meet demand, and we must be good environmental stewards" -- on Wednesday the FAA posted a draft of its "Flight Plan 2008-2012." The draft outlines the steps the agency says it must undertake to "keep things running smoothly" for the next four years -- including deadlines on implementation of those steps, such as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcasting (ADS-B) -- and also invites comments to the plan.

"Our skies are safe," the agency writes. "There aren't many industries out there that are safe to the point where they monitor incidents and accidents that didn't happen. But the margin of safety in our system has grown so much better over the years that we now track even minor blips."

The agency notes it has worked with the aviation industry to achieve an "incredibly" low rate of fatal accidents involving commercial airlines, adding there has also been a marked decrease of accidents involving general aviation planes.

But more must be done, the FAA emphatically states.

"Even so, the bottom line is that the status quo -- regardless of the fact that we're in an era of unprecedented safety -- will not meet the needs of the future. As passengers continue to fly in ever-increasing numbers, and as more planes continue to fill the skies, we have to be ready and able to handle it all efficiently," the agency writes. "Our system must continue to change to meet the growing needs of our country, engaging the brightest minds in the industry, encouraging our employees to reach for excellence in all they do, and taking advantage of new technologies."

Those new technologies outlined in the draft are part of the agency's flaunted Next Generation Air Transportation System, or "NextGen." Those technologies include ADS-B, improved communications, and infrastructure enhancements.

The FAA lays out a framework for the implementation of key NextGen components -- for example, it sets 2010 as a deadline for a Final Rule to be implemented for ADS-B -- while also noting its accomplishments to date.

"We know that NextGen is a system that will take many years to fully implement, but we will have key accomplishments in the next five years as well," states the agency.

The full text of the Flight Plan is available as a .pdf document at the FMI link below. The agency also invites comments to the plan on its website.

FMI: Read The Full Flight Plan Draft (.pdf)

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