FAA Hyping NextGen

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The PR campaign to gain support for the FAA’s airspace modernization program, known as NextGen, took to the air on Friday as members of the mainstream mediagot a demonstration of ADS-B on the agency’s test bed aircraft. The agency has found a natural conduit to mainstream exposure on the topic by linking the existing technology to the increasingly frustrating number of airline flight delays. "The entire infrastructure in this country has reached the end of its useful life," Manny Weiss, the FAA’s eastern region administrator, told the reporters, likening the radar-based ATC system to the bridges and highways across the country that also need replacing. Unfortunately for the FAA, there’s not much sizzle to a demonstration of ADS-B, even for pilots, and an Associated Press reporter explained it this way for his audience of mostly non-pilots. “A small, brightly colored screen provided a detailed picture of all the planes nearby, which showed up as green triangles. The system uses GPS signals to give pilots information,” the writer reported. He or she went on to say the system will allow aircraft to fly closer together and let pilots “weave their own courses.” The nationwide cost of the system is expected to be about $4.6 billion.