The FAA Friday announced it will pay $4.2 million to equip up to 35 JetBlue A320s with ADS-B, allowing the airline to fly new routes and the FAA to "collect important data" and "demonstrate the benefits of NextGen." The airline will receive the equipment over the next two years. JetBlue will use it to fly a new route to the Caribbean and use of the equipment may also lead to the development of new, shorter routes from Boston, New York and Washington to the Caribbean. The FAA says it will observe the equipped JetBlue aircraft and conduct real-time evaluations of the system in practice on real-world revenue flights. The FAA is picking up the tab for the avionics, but the airline will pay for a few things, too.
JetBlue will pay for the cost of downtime while the avionics are installed, and fund training for dispatchers and flight crews. Some of that may be offset. The airline will also "demonstrate the cost savings of ADS-B technology," according to the FAA, and may equip the rest of its A320 fleet at its own expense." The FAA says the announcement follows President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address, "in which he stressed the importance of targeted investments to foster American innovation that will make our nation more competitive globally and strengthen our economy here at home."