DOT IG Wonders How The FAA Will Cope

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Air travel is growing, more aircraft are projected to be flying to more places and the OIG wonders how the agency is going to cope with the surge in demand for its services. Making better use of its existing resources will help, but the report says major investments will be needed to accommodate the demand. For now, it says, nothing increases capacity like concrete and asphalt. There are about a dozen major runway projects underway at the moment and the report says the agency has to ensure they get done. Meanwhile, the search for technological answers to growing traffic continues and the OIG seems apprehensive about what it terms the “high risk” proposals currently being discussed for the Next Generation Air Traffic System (NGATS). The report says the FAA estimates it will need an extra $4.4 billion over the next six years to start implementing NGATS, but that estimate doesn’t say how or where the money will be spent. What’s perhaps more significant to the aviation industry and individual pilots is that new gear will be needed on airplanes to use the system. Industry has already asked for details on the type of equipment needed and the schedules for implementation and the OIG says the FAA must get that information together.