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Highlights

To prepare for forecasted air traffic growth, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), including its Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) and Air Traffic Organization (ATO), is planning for and implementing the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) in partnership with other federal agencies and the aviation industry. NextGen will transform the current radar-based air traffic control system into a more automated, aircraft-centered, satellite-based system. GAO's previous work has identified issues related to the usefulness of NextGen planning documents, FAA's organizational structure to manage the transition to NextGen, and FAA's workforce to oversee and implement NextGen. Recently, the focus of NextGen planning and implementation has shifted to capabilities that can be achieved in the midterm, defined as 2012 through 2018. GAO's testimony focuses on (1) JPDO's and ATO's progress in planning and implementing NextGen, (2) ongoing efforts to implement midterm capabilities to address capacity constraints and delays, (3) the potential impact on NextGen of organizational changes and human capital issues, and (4) research and development and facilities maintenance and reconfiguration challenges going forward. GAO's testimony updates prior GAO work with FAA data and interviews with agency and union officials and industry stakeholders, including airline, aircraft, and avionics manufacturer representatives.

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