The Federal Aviation Administration has awarded up to $4.4 billion in contracts that will support the Next Generation Air Transportation System.
The contracts were awarded to Boeing, General Dynamics and ITT and will be used to conduct large-scale demonstrations as part of FAA’s effort to modernize the current aviation system. The 10-year, $4.4 billion is planned to be distributed incrementally as certain tasks over the years are completed. Boeing will receive $1.7 billion, ITT $1.4 billion and General Dynamics $1.2 billion.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood explained the importance of NextGen and its future in aviation.
“NextGen is an economic opportunity that will challenge innovative companies to expand their workforce and help us modernize our National Airspace System,” he said. “Under NextGen, air travelers will be able to fly to their destinations safer and faster.”
According to the FAA, these contracts will allow the companies to develop a four-dimensional aircraft profile, incorporating a new element of time to the already in-place 3-D operation of an aircraft’s latitude, longitude, and altitude.
The development of NextGen’s programs will allow pilots to get a better sense of an aircraft’s location and the time at which it will be in that location. It will also add a more in-depth weather program that will show conditions at different altitudes, allowing for smoother and more efficient air travel.
Commenting on NextGen’s enhancement of the current aviation infrastructure, FAA Randy Babbitt said, “NextGen is an intricate network of systems that involves everything from air traffic control to weather.”
“We need to have the right tools to make sure we integrate all these different components safely and smoothly,” he said.
The contracts are part of the System Engineering 2020 program and will encourage the participation of small businesses and will allow the work to be completed in a timely and cost-effective manner.