This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-12-187T 
entitled 'Next Generation Air Transportation System: Linking Test 
Facilities Can Help Leverage Resources and Improve Technology Transfer 
Efforts' which was released on November 7, 2011. 

This text file was formatted by the U.S. Government Accountability 
Office (GAO) to be accessible to users with visual impairments, as 
part of a longer term project to improve GAO products' accessibility. 
Every attempt has been made to maintain the structural and data 
integrity of the original printed product. Accessibility features, 
such as text descriptions of tables, consecutively numbered footnotes 
placed at the end of the file, and the text of agency comment letters, 
are provided but may not exactly duplicate the presentation or format 
of the printed version. The portable document format (PDF) file is an 
exact electronic replica of the printed version. We welcome your 
feedback. Please E-mail your comments regarding the contents or 
accessibility features of this document to 

This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright 
protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and distributed 
in its entirety without further permission from GAO. Because this work 
may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the 
copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this 
material separately. 

United States Government Accountability Office:


Before the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of 

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 10:00 a.m. EST:
Monday, November 7, 2011: 

Next Generation Air Transportation System: 

Linking Test Facilities Can Help Leverage Resources and Improve 
Technology Transfer Efforts: 

Statement of Gerald L. Dillingham, Ph.D.
Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues: 


[End of section] 

Chairman Mica, Ranking Member Rahall, and Members of the Committee: 

I appreciate the opportunity to testify before you today on the use of 
test facilities as a means of leveraging public, private, and academic 
resources to deliver technologies for the Next Generation Air 
Transportation System (NextGen). NextGen will affect nearly every 
aspect of air transportation and will transform the way in which the 
air transportation system operates today. It is a complex undertaking 
that requires new technologies--including new integrated ground and 
aircraft systems--as well as new procedures, processes, and supporting 
infrastructure. The result will be an air transportation system that 
relies on satellite-based surveillance and navigation, data 
communications, and improved collaborative decision making. 
Transforming the nation's air transportation system affects and 
involves the activities and missions of several federal agencies, 
[Footnote 1] though the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the 
lead implementer. In addition, NextGen was designed and planned to be 
developed in collaboration with aviation stakeholders--airlines and 
other airspace users, air traffic controllers, and avionics, aircraft, 
and automation systems manufacturers--in order to facilitate 
coordinated research activities, transfer technologies from FAA and 
partner agencies to the private sector, and take advantage of research 
and technology developed by the private sector that could meet NextGen 
needs, as appropriate. Three NextGen test facilities, collectively 
referred to as the NextGen Test Bed, are designed to foster the 
research and development of NextGen-related technologies and to 
evaluate integrated technologies and procedures for nationwide NextGen 
deployment. These test facilities provide access to the systems 
currently used in the national air space (NAS) and house various types 
of hardware, simulators, and other equipment to allow for 
demonstrations of new technologies. They also provide opportunities 
for stakeholders--public and private--to collaborate with FAA, 
academia, and each other. 

My statement today discusses (1) the role of the NextGen test 
facilities in the development of NextGen technologies and how private 
industry and partner agencies participate in projects at the NextGen 
test facilities, and (2) our previous findings on NextGen technology 
transfer and FAA's efforts to improve the transfer and implementation 
of NextGen-related technologies. This statement is based on our prior 
NextGen-related reports and testimonies,[Footnote 2] updated with 
information we gathered from FAA and test facility officials in 
October 2011. The GAO reports cited in this statement contain more 
detailed explanations of the methods used to conduct our work, which 
we performed in accordance with generally accepted government auditing 

In summary, the role of the NextGen Test Bed is to demonstrate the 
benefits of NextGen initiatives and to do so early in the technology 
development process. While sharing a common purpose, each of the three 
facilities that collectively make up the NextGen Test Bed offers 
different testing capabilities and brings together different 
participants from different communities. Across the test facilities 
private and public sector stakeholders contribute personnel, 
equipment, and funding to develop and integrate technologies. Linking 
the test facilities to leverage the benefits of each is part of the 
NextGen Test Bed concept and officials from the test facilities 
indicated they have made some progress in doing so. In prior work on 
technology transfer activities, we found that the success of test 
facilities as a means to leverage private sector resources depends in 
large part on the extent to which the private sector perceives 
benefits to its participation. Similarly, collaboration among the 
NextGen partner agencies depends in part on their seeing outcomes that 
further their mission and on identifying a common purpose. FAA has 
taken a number of actions to improve its ability to implement new 
technologies and increase partner agencies' and private sector 
participants' involvement in seeing the development of selected 
technologies through to successful implementation--including 
restructuring the organization responsible for implementing NextGen 
and linking the test facilities and improving their capabilities. 

NextGen Test Facilities Share a Purpose but Have Different 
Capabilities and Participants: 

The purpose of the NextGen Test Bed is to provide an environment in 
which laboratory testing and real-world demonstrations help to show 
the benefits of NextGen technologies. Furthermore, the Test Bed 
provides access to the systems currently used in the NAS, which allows 
for testing and evaluating the integration and interoperability of new 
technologies. The Test Bed is also meant to bring together 
stakeholders early in the technology development process so 
participants can understand the benefits of operational improvements, 
identify potential risks and integration and interoperability issues, 
and foster partnerships between government and industry. Some test 
facilities also serve as a forum in which private companies can learn 
from and partner with each other and eventually enter into technology 
acquisition agreements with FAA with reduced risk. 

Each of the NextGen test facilities that compose the NextGen Test Bed 
offers different testing capabilities and brings together different 
participants. The test facilities include: (1) the Florida Test Bed at 
Daytona Beach International Airport, supported by Embry-Riddle 
Aeronautical University (Embry-Riddle); (2) the Texas Test Bed, a 
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) facility near the 
Dallas-Fort Worth Airport; and (3) the New Jersey Test Bed located at 
FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center near Atlantic City. (See fig. 
1). According to FAA, while physically in different locations, the 
facilities are united in their purpose and will eventually be 
integrated to share capabilities and information. 

Figure 1: Map of the Facilities That Compose the NextGen Test Bed: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustrated U.S. map] 

Eastern Service Area: 
New Jersey Test: Bed William J. Hughes Technical Center (Atlantic 
City, NJ); 
Florida Test Bed: Daytona Beach International Airport Facility 
(Daytona Beach, Florida). 

Central Service Area: 
Texas Test Bed: NASA Facility (Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas). 

Sources: FAA and Map Resources. 

[End of figure] 

While sharing a common purpose, each facility offers different testing 
capabilities and brings together different participants from different 
communities, as follows: 

* The Florida Test Bed is located in a private facility at which 
companies, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing, come together with 
academia and FAA to test technologies that fit into the NextGen 
vision. Private participants contribute financially to research and 
demonstration projects and collaborate to test concepts and 
technologies. These activities are guided by memorandums of 
understanding among all the participants. Embry-Riddle is currently 
working on a model agreement to govern the contributions of its 
private partners that will help delineate which components (hardware, 
software, and infrastructure) will be provided by the government and 
which by private participants. The model is meant to provide a cost-
sharing method and also help engage participants and provide a means 
for them to have a vested interest in seeing the development of the 
technology all the way through to implementation. Currently, FAA pays 
the operating costs of the Florida Test Bed while Embry-Riddle and 
participating companies contribute technology and technical staff. 
Private participants may invest directly in software or hardware 
support. The facility--which has just undergone an expansion--provides 
access to the systems currently used in the NAS and to some of the 
major navigation, surveillance, communications, and weather 
information programs that are under development. It also has a 
dedicated area to support demonstrations and a separate space for the 
participating companies to test integration--where a greater 
contribution from the private sector is envisioned. 

* The Texas Test Bed is a collaborative effort between NASA and FAA 
built on the grounds of FAA's Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control 
Center. It supports NextGen research through field evaluations, shadow 
testing, the evaluation of simulations, and data collection and 
analysis.[Footnote 3] The researchers at the facility have agreements 
to receive data feeds from the airlines operating at the Dallas-Fort 
Worth airport, as well as various data feeds from airport and air 
traffic control facilities. 

* The New Jersey Test Bed, located at FAA's national scientific test 
base, conducts research and development for new NextGen systems. In 
June 2010, this facility opened the NextGen Integration and Evaluation 
Capability area where scientists use real-time simulation to explore, 
integrate, and evaluate NextGen concepts, such as area navigation, 
trajectory-based operations, and unmanned aircraft system operations 
in the NAS. In addition, in 2008, FAA entered into a lease to build 
the Next Generation Research and Technology Park (the Park) adjacent 
to the New Jersey Test Bed. The Park is a partnership intended to 
engage industry in a broad spectrum of research projects, with access 
to state-of-the-art federal laboratories. The Park's establishment is 
meant to encourage the transfer of scientific and technical 
information, data, and know-how to and from the private sector and is 
consistent with FAA's technology transfer goals. (See table 1 for 
examples of past and planned activities at NextGen test facilities.) 

Table 1: Select Projects at NextGen Test Facilities: 

Facility: Florida Test Bed; 
Project: Flight Data Object (FDO) Preparation; 
Description: A flight's unique characteristics, data elements 
collected from disparate sources and merged into a cohesive picture, 
are its "Flight Object." Identifying these characteristics throughout 
the phases of flight in domestic and international automation systems 
is part of the process of developing four-dimensional trajectory 
planning that considers both space and time; 
Purpose: Perform research, analysis, and demonstration of Flight Data 
Object exchange as a means for capturing and sharing up-to-date 
information on any flight; 
Participants: Lockheed Martin, Harris Corporation, Sensis Corporation, 
Mosaic ATM, Adacel, NavPortugal, NATS UK, and Embry-Riddle. 

Facility: Florida Test Bed; 
Project:4-Dimensional Weather Cube Demonstration; 
Description: The 4-Dimensional Weather Cube is continuously updated 
information on weather conditions, including convection, turbulence, 
icing, wind, visibility, clouds, volcanic ash, and space weather. The 
information is suitable for use by human or machine aviation decision-
making procedures and processes; 
Purpose: Small demonstration of the 4-Dimensional weather cube; 
Participants: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln 
Laboratory, NCAR, Embry-Riddle. 

Facility: Florida Test Bed; 
Project: Oceanic Conflict Advisory Trial (OCAT) Flight Trial; 
Description: OCAT is a year-long FAA operational trial designed to 
help airlines fly more of their preferred oceanic routings while 
reducing air traffic controller and pilot workloads; 
Purpose: Trial to allow airlines to access Advanced Technologies and 
Oceanic Procedures (ATOP) conflict probe results. ATOP is an 
integrated oceanic air traffic control automation system that includes 
an enhanced probe to detect conflicts between aircraft; 
Participants: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Embry-Riddle. 

Facility: Texas Test Bed; 
Project: Precision Departure Release Capability (PDRC); 
Description: PDRC is software that links Traffic Management Advisor to 
other information to better plan flight departures by minimizing 
delays once passengers have boarded. Traffic Management Advisor uses 
graphical displays and alerts to increase situational awareness for 
air traffic controllers and traffic management coordinators; 
Purpose: Live-data, engineering shadow evaluation to verify integrated 
performance, refine concept of operations, and develop plan for 
operational evaluation; 
Participants: NASA, FAA. 

Facility: Texas Test Bed; 
Project: Boeing Direct Routes; 
Description: Boeing Direct Routes is a service that uses advanced 
software algorithms developed by NASA to automatically alert an 
airline's operations centers and flight crew when a simple, more fuel-
efficient path is available, permitting the operations center to 
propose those routes to FAA controllers for approval; 
Purpose: Evaluate the performance and operational utility of decision 
support tool for air carrier use; 
Participants: NASA, FAA, Boeing, Southwest Airlines, Continental 

Facility: New Jersey Test Bed; 
Project: Conflict Resolution Advisories Demonstration Project; 
Description: Conflict Resolution Advisories is meant to ease en route 
controller workload and eliminate controller tasks associated with 
determining conflict resolution. Instead of the controller monitoring 
the sector airspace display to predict potential problems and mentally 
calculate problem resolutions, the technology will predict the problem 
and determine the best solution; 
Purpose: A series of experiments will assess the utility and 
operational acceptability of the automated resolutions proposed. The 
experiments will also provide data for the benefits and safety 
assessments of the operational improvement; 
Participants: MITRE-Center for Advanced Aviation System Development, 

Facility: New Jersey Test Bed; 
Project: D-AIRWOLF: DataComm Weather Demonstration; 
Description: The Automatic Identification of Risk Weather Objects in 
Line of Flight (AIRWOLF) is a support tool that detects conflicts 
between aircraft and hazardous weather, alerts the controller, and 
generates automatic weather advisories. Data Communications (DataComm) 
is the first phase in the transition from the current analog voice 
systems to digital communication; 
Purpose: Simulation examines the combination of DataComm and the 
AIRWOLF weather advisory. Purpose is a demonstration of automated 
weather advisories being sent from the controller workstation to the 
pilot over a DataComm interface; 
Participants: FAA. 

Source: GAO analysis of FAA and NASA information. 

[End of table] 

According to officials from the test facilities, they have made some 
progress in their plans to link the NextGen test facilities to 
integrate capabilities and share information. Linking the test 
facilities to leverage the benefits of each is part of the NextGen 
Test Bed concept. According to an FAA official, in June 2011, the 
Florida and New Jersey Test Beds established data integration 
capabilities when they were connected with FAA's NextGen Research and 
Development computer network. During the summer, they used the 
integrated capabilities to participate in a demonstration of the 
Oceanic Conflict Advisory Trial (OCAT) system.[Footnote 4] In 
addition, the Texas Test Bed is in the final stages of being connected 
to FAA's NextGen Research and Development computer network. According 
to officials at the Texas Test Bed, in the past year, FAA and NASA 
collaborated on a NextGen Test Bed capabilities analysis and developed 
an interagency agreement to support NextGen Test Bed collaboration. 
This increased level of coordination is expected to continue. 

Stakeholders Must See Tangible Results to Participate in NextGen 
Technology Development, and FAA Has Taken Steps to Improve Technology 
Transfer and Implementation: 

In prior work on technology transfer activities, we found that the 
success of test facilities as a means to leverage private sector 
resources depends in large part on the extent to which the private 
sector perceives benefits to its participation.[Footnote 5] 
Representatives of firms participating in test facility activities 
told us that tangible results--that is, the implementation of 
technologies they helped to develop--were important to maintain the 
private sector's interest. However, they said it was not always clear 
what happened to technologies that were successfully tested at these 
sites. In some cases, it was not apparent whether the technology being 
tested had a clear path to implementation, or whether that technology 
had a clear place in FAA's NAS Enterprise Architecture Infrastructure 
Roadmaps.[Footnote 6] As a result, a successfully tested technology 
would not move to implementation in the NAS. We also found that FAA 
has had difficulty advancing technologies that cut across programs and 
offices at FAA, when there is no clear "home" or "champion" within FAA 
for the technology. 

FAA's expansion of the Test Bed concept--linking together its testing 
facilities, expanding the Florida Test Bed, and building a Research 
and Technology Park adjacent to the New Jersey Test Bed to complement 
the capabilities at Embry-Riddle--is a positive step that should help 
to address some of these issues, allowing private sector participants 
to remain more involved throughout the process, with a vested interest 
in seeing the development of selected technologies through to 
successful implementation. In addition, to improve its ability to 
implement new technologies, FAA has begun to restructure its Air 
Traffic Organization (ATO), which is responsible for moving air 
traffic safely and efficiently, as well as for implementing NextGen. 
We have previously reported on problems with FAA's management 
structure and oversight of NextGen acquisitions and implementation and 
made recommendations designed to improve FAA's ability to manage 
portfolios of capabilities across program offices. To address these 
issues, FAA made the Deputy Administrator responsible for the NextGen 
organization and created a new head of program management for NextGen-
related programs to ensure improved oversight of NextGen 
implementation. Furthermore, the ATO is in the process of being 
divided into two branches: operations and NextGen program management. 
Operations will focus on the day-to-day management of the NAS and the 
program management branch will be responsible for developing and 
implementing programs while working with operations to ensure proper 
integration. While a focus on accountability for NextGen 
implementation is a positive step and can help address issues with 
respect to finding the right "home" for technologies and creating a 
clearer path to implementation, it is too early to tell whether this 
reorganization will produce the desired results. 

Collaboration among the NextGen partner agencies also depends, in 
part, on their perceiving positive outcomes. NASA has historically 
been FAA's primary source of long-term air traffic management research 
and continues to lead research and development activities for many key 
elements of NextGen. However, past technology transfer efforts between 
NASA and FAA faced challenges at the transfer point between invention 
and acquisition, referred to as the "valley of death." At this point 
in the process, NASA has limited funding at times to continue beyond 
fundamental research, but the technology was not matured to a level 
for FAA to assume the risks of investing in a technology that had not 
yet been demonstrated with a prototype or similar evidence. FAA and 
NASA officials are both working to address this issue through 
interagency agreements that specify a commitment to a more advanced 
level of technological maturity of research that NASA has conducted in 
the past. Using an interagency agreement, as well as test facility 
demonstrations, NASA developed and successfully transferred the 
Traffic Management Advisor--a program that uses graphical displays and 
alerts to increase situational awareness for air traffic controllers 
and traffic management coordinators--to FAA. Through the agreement, 
the two agencies established the necessary data feeds and two-way 
computer interfaces to support the program. NASA demonstrated the 
system's capabilities at the Texas Test Bed, where it also conducted 
operational evaluations and transferred the program to FAA, which, 
after reengineering it for operational use, deployed it throughout the 
United States. 

FAA has also used research transition teams to coordinate research and 
transfer technologies from NASA and overcome technology transfer 
challenges.[Footnote 7] As we have previously reported, the design of 
these teams is consistent with several key practices of interagency 
coordination we have identified.[Footnote 8] These teams identify 
common outcomes, establish a joint strategy to achieve that outcome, 
and define each agency's role and responsibilities, allowing FAA and 
NASA to overcome differences in agency missions, cultures, and 
established ways of doing business. 

Differences in mission priorities, however, particularly between FAA 
and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and between FAA and the 
Department of Defense (DOD), pose a challenge to coordination with 
those agencies. DHS's diverse set of mission priorities, ranging from 
aviation security to border protection, affects its level of 
involvement in NextGen activities. Agency officials also have stated 
that although different offices within DHS are involved in related 
NextGen activities, such as security issues, the fact that NextGen 
implementation is not a formalized mission in DHS can affect its level 
of participation in NextGen activities. NextGen stakeholders reported 
that FAA could more effectively engage partner agencies in long-term 
planning by aligning implementation activities to agency mission 
priorities and by obtaining agency buy-in for actions required to 
transform the NAS. 

In addition, we have reported that FAA's mechanisms for collaborating 
on research and technology development efforts with DOD and DHS do not 
ensure that resources are fully leveraged. For example, FAA and DOD 
have yet to fully identify what DOD research, technology, or expertise 
could support NextGen activities. DOD has not completed an inventory 
of its research and development portfolio related to NextGen, impeding 
FAA's ability to identify and leverage potentially useful research, 
technology, or expertise from DOD. In addition, DHS's collaboration 
with FAA and its NextGen planning unit, the Joint Planning and 
Development Office has been limited in certain areas of NextGen 
research, and the agencies have yet to fully determine what can be 
leveraged. Lack of coordination between FAA and DOD and FAA and DHS 
could result in duplicative research and inefficient use of resources 
at both agencies. We previously recommended that these agencies 
develop mechanisms to further clarify NextGen interagency 
collaborative priorities and enhance technology transfer between the 

Chairman Mica, Ranking Member Rahall, and Members of the Committee, 
this concludes my prepared statement. I would be pleased to answer any 
questions that you may have at this time. 

GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

For further information on this testimony, please contact Gerald L. 
Dillingham, Ph.D., at (202) 512-2834 or In 
addition, contact points for our Offices of Congressional Relations 
and Public Affairs may be found on the last page of this statement. 
Individuals making key contributions to this testimony include Andrew 
Von Ah (Assistant Director), Kevin Egan, Elizabeth Eisenstadt, Richard 
Hung, Bert Japikse, Kieran McCarthy, and Jessica Wintfeld. 

[End of section] 


[1] Federal partner agencies include the Federal Aviation 
Administration; the Departments of Commerce, Defense and Homeland 
Security; and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 

[2] GAO, Next Generation Air Transportation System: FAA Has Made 
Progress in Implementation, but Delays Threaten to Impact Costs and 
Benefits, [hyperlink,] 
(Washington, D.C.: Oct. 5, 2011); Transportation System: Mechanisms 
for Collaboration and Technology Transfer Could be Enhanced to More 
Fully Leverage Partner Agency and Industry Resources, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: June 30, 
2011); Integration of Current Implementation Efforts with Long-term 
Planning for the Next Generation Air Transportation System, 
[hyperlink,] (Washington, 
D.C.: Nov. 22, 2010); Next Generation Air Transportation System: 
Status of Systems Acquisition and the Transition to the Next 
Generation Air Transportation System, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 11, 

[3] Field evaluations include tests or trials in an operational (i.e. 
field) environment, as opposed to a laboratory setting. Shadow testing 
refers to evaluating a concept or technology using live data rather 
than simulated or recorded data. It can be performed in a laboratory 
or in the field. 

[4] OCAT is a year-long FAA operational trial designed to help 
airlines fly more of their preferred oceanic routings while reducing 
air traffic controller and pilot workloads. 

[5] [hyperlink,]. 

[6] NAS Enterprise Architecture Infrastructure Roadmaps describe the 
strategy for transitioning from the current NAS to the future NAS 

[7] Research transition teams cover approximately half of all research 
and development activities conducted by NASA's Airspace Systems 
Program--a group assigned to directly address fundamental NextGen 
needs. Each team addresses a specific issue area that (1) is 
considered a high priority, (2) has defined projects and deliverables, 
and (3) requires the coordination of multiple offices within FAA or 

[8] [hyperlink,]. See also GAO, 
Results Oriented Government: Practices That Can Enhance and Sustain 
Collaboration among Federal Agencies, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 21, 

[End of section] 

GAO’s Mission: 

The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation, and 
investigative arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting 
its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the 
performance and accountability of the federal government for the 
American people. GAO examines the use of public funds; evaluates 
federal programs and policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, 
and other assistance to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, 
and funding decisions. GAO’s commitment to good government is 
reflected in its core values of accountability, integrity, and 

Obtaining Copies of GAO Reports and Testimony: 

The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no 
cost is through GAO’s website [hyperlink,]. Each 
weekday afternoon, GAO posts on its website newly released reports, 
testimony, and correspondence. To have GAO e mail you a list of newly 
posted products, go to [hyperlink,] and select “E-
mail Updates.” 

Order by Phone: 

The price of each GAO publication reflects GAO’s actual cost of 
production and distribution and depends on the number of pages in the 
publication and whether the publication is printed in color or black 
and white. Pricing and ordering information is posted on GAO’s 
website, [hyperlink,]. 

Place orders by calling (202) 512-6000, toll free (866) 801-7077, or 
TDD (202) 512-2537. 

Orders may be paid for using American Express, Discover Card, 
MasterCard, Visa, check, or money order. Call for additional 

Connect with GAO: 

Connect with GAO on facebook, flickr, twitter, and YouTube.
Subscribe to our RSS Feeds or E mail Updates. Listen to our Podcasts.
Visit GAO on the web at 

To Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse in Federal Programs: 

Website: [hyperlink,]; 
Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470. 

Congressional Relations: 

Ralph Dawn, Managing Director,, (202) 512-4400
U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7125
Washington, DC 20548. 

Public Affairs: 
Chuck Young, Managing Director,, (202) 512-4800
U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7149 
Washington, DC 20548.