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Highlights

On September 9, 2009, the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) Midterm Implementation Task Force (Task Force) issued its final report and recommendations. The Task Force was to reach a consensus on the operational improvements to the air transportation system that should be implemented between now and 2018. Its recommendations call for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop improvements that allow operators to take advantage of equipment that has been widely deployed or is available for installation in existing aircraft. FAA is now considering how to modify its existing plans and programs in response to the Task Force's recommendations and must do so in a way that retains safety as the highest priority. This testimony highlights the NextGen challenges previously identified by GAO and others that affect FAA's response to the Task Force's recommendations. GAO groups these challenges into three areas: (1) directing resources and addressing environmental issues, (2) adjusting its culture and business practices, and (3) developing and implementing options to encourage airlines and general aviation to equip aircraft with new technologies. GAO's testimony updates prior GAO work with interviews with agency officials and industry stakeholders and includes an analysis of the Task Force report.

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