Performance Report

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FAAC Status Updates

Overview

In December of 2010, the FAAC completed several months of deliberation and issued 23 consensus recommendations on the future of U.S. aviation.  The recommendations focused on safety, the environment, competition, finance and labor relations.  Many of the FAAC’s recommendations in these areas explored new and innovative strategies for the industry.  Other recommendations sought to highlight and to provide support and encouragement for on-going initiatives that the FAAC members believed to be of particular importance to the future health and sustainability of the industry.  What follows is a report on the progress of on-going implementation efforts to address these recommendations.  These summaries will be updated periodically.


FAAC Recommendation 1

Sustainable Alternative Aviation Fuels

The Advisory Committee sought strong national leadership to promote and showcase U.S. aviation as a first user of sustainable alternative fuels.  Sustainable alternative aviation fuels provide a tremendous opportunity for reductions in carbon emissions and other emissions associated with air quality, and can further U.S. energy security, create green jobs, and foster economic stability for aviation against fuel price volatility.  As emphasized by the Advisory Committee, the U.S. commercial aviation industry strongly supports alternative jet fuels and partnership with the FAA and other Government agencies to develop such fuels. 

Government and industry efforts have made notable progress via the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), founded by the FAA and industry partners, and through other avenues.  This initiative has received White House attention and support.  Alternative jet fuels have been approved for use and have been flown in commercial aircraft.  More details on these and other progressive steps are provided below.

In July 2011, standard-setting organization ASTM International approved a bio-derived sustainable alternative jet fuel known as Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids, or HEFA, for commercial use at a 50 percent blend level.  It is a “drop-in” jet fuel that can be used without changes to aircraft systems or fueling infrastructure.

In August 2011, President Obama announced that the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Navy will invest up to $510 million over the next three years, in partnership with the private sector, to produce advanced drop-in aviation and marine biofuels for military and commercial transportation.

In November 2011, the Feedstock Readiness Level Tool (FSRL), developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, FAA, and the Volpe Transportation Systems Center, was presented to industry and government stakeholders.  The FSRL is a gated risk management tool that can be used to measure and track progress in feasibility and availability of the raw materials needed to produce sustainable alternative jet fuel.

In February 2012, Honeywell Aerospace completed endurance testing of a turbofan engine using a 50 percent blend of Jet-A and HEFA fuel, confirming that this approved jet biofuel blend does not impact long-term engine wear or operation.

In September 2012, several milestones were reached.  Honeywell’s UOP completed plant scale up and delivered 100 gallons of an advanced jet biofuel made from a renewable alcohol (isobutenol) raw material.  This fuel will be used for rig and engine testing this year, necessary to support alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fuel approval for commercial use, anticipated in the next two years.  In addition, under the Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) program, Rolls-Royce completed lab and engine component testing of four advanced jet biofuels that show promise of being approved for commercial use in the next two years.  Also under CLEEN, Honeywell completed a sustainability analysis for a fully synthetic alternative jet fuel (bio-derived aromatics blended with HEFA jet fuel) that showed lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions could be cut in half compared to those of conventional Jet-A.

In 2011-2013, the FAA established cooperative agreements with Australia Germany, and Spain to facilitate the promotion, development, and use of sustainable alternative jet fuels.  The FAA continues to collaborate with Brazil and Canada under existing agreements to share best practices in alternative jet fuel testing and certification policy and regulation.  These international partnerships contribute to FAA’s ongoing efforts to support approval of additional sustainable alternative jet fuels for aviation via ASTM International.  

In 2013, the EPA issued a final rule identifying biofuels produced from camelina oil and energy cane as meeting life cycle GHG reduction requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) program. It also clarified the definition of renewable diesel to explicitly include jet fuel.  By qualifying these new fuel pathways, this rule provides opportunities to increase the volume of alternative jet fuels with low GHG footprints by providing eligibility for crediting and generating Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) in accordance with the RFS regulations 

In May 2013, DoD awarded three contracts totaling $16 million to Emerald Biofuels, Natures BioReserve and Fulcrum Biofuels for drop-in military biofuels primarily from oil seed crops and waste residues.  These grants, made under the Defense Production Act Title III, will be matched by $17 million in investments by the companies.  The companies will develop plans for biorefineries producing up to 150 million gallons/year that will cost the U.S. military less than $4 per gallon.  The biorefineries are expected to supply aviation and marine diesel fuel.

In June 2013, United Airlines executed a purchase agreement with AltAir Fuels for cost-competitive, sustainable, advanced biofuels at commercial scale, representing a historic milestone for aviation.  AltAir Fuels will retrofit part of an existing petroleum refinery to become a 30 million gallon/year, advanced biofuel refinery near Los Angeles.  The airline is purchasing the advanced biofuel at a price competitive with traditional, petroleum-based jet fuel, and AltAir expects to begin delivering five million gallons of renewable jet fuel per year to United starting in 2014.  United will use the biofuel on flights operating out of its Los Angeles hub (LAX).

What’s Next

The FAA’s CLEEN technology program is pursuing additional research, development, and testing of alternative fuels and sustainability analyses.  This includes engine testing of advanced, fully-formulated jet biofuels such as ATJ fuels and fuels made from sugars.  Data from these tests will be included in reports submitted to ASTM International when considering fuels for approval.

The FAA has solicited proposals from academia for a new Center of Excellence (CoE) for Alternative Jet Fuels and Environment.  The new CoE is expected to be awarded in late 2013 and will provide additional capability for alternative jet fuel testing and analysis.

The FAA’s Destination 2025 strategic plan has the goal of one billion gallons of renewable jet fuel used by aviation by 2018.

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 2

R&D Tax Credits, Government Research to Accelerate Aircraft Technologies

The Advisory Committee recommended the permanent extension of industry research and development tax credits to help accelerate aircraft technology research and development.  The Advisory Committee recommended robust support for the FAA’s Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) technology program and close coordination with NASA aeronautical research programs to develop new aircraft technologies. 

With respect to each, the Committee emphasized that aviation-related research and development investments are vital for a high technology economy.  Historically, most of the reductions in the environmental impact of aviation have been due to improvements in technologies on the aircraft.  Significant improvement opportunities are still ahead.  Leveraging industry’s research and development investment was considered by the Advisory Committee to have the greatest capacity to maximize benefits in the shortest time frame.

Significant progress has been made since the Advisory Committee’s recommendation.  The extension of the industry research and development tax credit was supported by the White House and has been enacted by the Congress.  The FAA’s CLEEN program has successfully demonstrated a series of new technologies that will reduce aviation’s environmental impacts, as more fully described in examples below.

At the time of the Advisory Committee’s recommendation, the U.S. Research and Development Tax Credit—in place since 1981—had expired.  The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, enacted in December 2010, extended the tax credit through 2011.  The President’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget proposed making the tax credit permanent. The recently enacted American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 extended the research tax credit through 2013 and made it retroactive for 2012. 

The CLEEN program, an important component of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), is a cost-sharing initiative between FAA and industry to mature promising technologies and alternative fuels to reduce aircraft environmental impacts and energy use.  The program has ambitious goals to achieve a quieter, cleaner fleet that operates more efficiently with less energy and sustainable alternative jet fuels.  A series of projects have been funded under the CLEEN program to mature various aircraft technologies to reduce fuel burn, emissions, and noise.  

In partnership with industry, the CLEEN program completed four demonstrations in FY 2012, significantly accelerating technology development.  In January 2012, General Electric (GE) completed core engine tests of the TAPS II (twin-annular pre-mixed swirler) Combustor.  Results showed that landing and take-off nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions were reduced 60 percent compared to existing standards, meeting one of the CLEEN goals.  This combustor is expected to be commercialized in 2016.  Also in January of 2012, GE completed wind tunnel tests of subscale blades for its Open Rotor engine, showing significant reductions in fuel burn and noise for single aisle class aircraft.  In August and September 2012, Boeing conducted ground and flight tests on an Adaptive Trailing Edge integrated on a modified 737-800 aircraft.  This technology is expected to reduce fuel burn by increasing wing aerodynamic efficiency and also to decrease aircraft noise on approach.

In January 2013, Rolls-Royce began ground tests of its CMC Turbine Blade Track (shroud) to demonstrate lower fuel burn by enabling higher operating temperature of the component.  Testing is scheduled to continue through December 2013.

In February 2013, Boeing in collaboration with Rolls-Royce completed ground tests of their Ceramic Matrix Composite (CMC) Acoustic Engine Nozzle on a Trent 1000 engine.  The CMC Acoustic Engine Nozzle will reduce fuel burn by reducing weight and allowing engine operation at higher temperatures.  It will also reduce noise.

What’s Next

In December 2013, Boeing plans to conduct flight tests of the CMC Acoustic Engine Nozzle on a 787 aircraft.

In January 2014, Honeywell plans to conduct engine ground tests of light weight engine components that can operate at higher temperatures, leading to an expected 15 percent fuel burn reduction for business and regional class aircraft.

In 2014, Pratt & Whitney will conduct wind tunnel tests, followed by engine ground tests in 2015 of an advanced geared turbofan (GTF) engine configuration that promises significant fuel burn and noise reductions.

Through ground and flight tests, CLEEN technologies will be matured sufficiently to meet industry requirements for initiating product development with entry into service by 2018.

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 3

Accelerate NextGen Equipage; Ground taxi delay management; Energy efficiency and emissions reduction

NextGen holds the promise of increased efficiency and capacity, enhanced safety, and improved environmental performance in the National Airspace System. To accelerate the achievement of these benefits, a targeted investment will be required to equip a significant portion of the more than 200,000 aircraft in the U.S. fleet to take advantage of NextGen improvements.

Individual retrofit costs vary by aircraft type. Total hardware and installation costs for the necessary NextGen cockpit upgrades required for mid-term operations have been estimated to be in the $6-7 billion range.

In response to this FAAC recommendation, the FAA tasked the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC), a senior aviation community advisory group, to explore various funding possibilities to promote NextGen equipage.  On September 29, 2011, the NAC provided FAA their recommendations on equipage.  The NAC recommendations and FAA responses to these recommendations are summarized in the FAA’s 2012 update to the NextGen Implementation Plan.  The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (the Act), enacted on February 14, 2012, provides the ability for the agency to consider using incentives to leverage equipment purchases that will give pilots from both the commercial and private sectors access to NextGen technology (Sections 221 and 222).  Section 222 of the Act requires the FAA to report on operational incentive options to encourage NextGen equipage.  The FAA has held several public meetings both on operational and financial incentives to seek input from interested stakeholders about program design and implementation of an equipage incentives program for commercial aircraft and general aviation to equip their aircraft with Next Generation Air Transportation (NextGen) capabilities.

An FAA pilot program at two airports – Memphis and Orlando – directly addresses the recommendation as well.  The Surface Decision Support System is installed at each site to serve as the prototype to mature new air traffic management concepts related to surface operations.  Memphis International Airport provides an environment to evaluate hub airport operations with two dominate flight operators, FedEx Express and Delta Airlines.  Orlando International Airport provides an environment to evaluate non-hub operations in which weather events routinely create departure queues.

FAA has completed the field evaluation report for Collaborative Departure Queue Management FY10 field activities at Memphis and Orlando.  Collaborative Departure Queue Management reduces long lines at the end of a runway when an airport’s demand exceeds the available capacity.  By maintaining a ‘virtual queue’ during periods of high demand, the CDQM concept provides environmental and fuel burn benefits while preserving flight operator flexibility.  FedEx Express and Delta Airlines ramp towers and FAA air traffic controllers participated in the FY10 field evaluations of the CDQM concept in Memphis.  During the evaluation, the flight operators and FAA ATC shared flight status information to improve surface demand predictability. Prototype commercial surface traffic management displays for the ramp towers were developed by Metron Aviation and Sensis to exchange data between the airlines and the FAA prototype and to improve the airlines’ ability to manage surface operations.

 In December of 2012, NextGen initiated the tech transferred requirements and technology based on the evaluation of these capabilities at Memphis and Orlando and is now proceeding with a full acquisition of the Terminal Flight Data Manager program which will develop and deploy surface capabilities at more airports. 

The recommendation sought to support the FAA’s efforts to reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency, such as its Sustainable Master Plan Pilot Program.  A sustainable master plan assesses energy usage, emissions, vehicle fleet activity and community involvement activities.  The FAA has partnered with 10 public-use airports and has provided funding for them to develop comprehensive sustainability plans.  This baseline information will be used to help airports improved environmental performance

To date, all airports have begun their plans.  They have begun coordinating with local stakeholders and developed environmental policy statements that underscore their commitment to sustainability.  In the coming months, draft plans will be prepared that document each airport’s sustainability objectives.

These airports are participating in the Sustainable Master Plan Pilot Program:  Denver International Airport; Fresno Yosemite International Airport; Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport; Nashville International Airport; Newark Liberty International Airport; Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, Virginia; Newton City-County Airport, Kansas; Outagamie County Regional Airport, Wisconsin; Renton Municipal Airport, Washington; and Teterboro Airport, New Jersey.

What’s Next

In response to the NAC recommendations and the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, the FAA continues to actively engage with industry to assess options that could attract additional investment in NextGen technologies and training.

The FAA is pursuing a the acquisition of the Terminal Flight Data Manager program for the development and deployment of surface CDM capabilities.  Pending a final investment decision in FY14, the TFDM program intends to deploy operational capability starting in late 2015.

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 4

Harmonized Sectoral Approach for Aviation Carbon Dioxide Emissions Reductions

This Advisory Committee recommendation focused attention on a national issue that is of international consequence.  Aviation potentially faces multiple, overlapping provisions and proposals for taxes, charges, emissions trading, and other measures that are intended to constrain greenhouse gas emissions, but which threaten to siphon from the industry the funds needed for investments in effective emissions reductions. 

A rationalized, harmonized approach is needed to promote and support significant emissions reductions to achieve carbon neutral growth in the 2020 timeframe and more ambitious reductions longer term.

The U.S. aviation sector has a strong record of fuel efficiency improvements, which reduce emissions, and continues to work with government to advance technological, operational, infrastructure and alternative fuel opportunities for further improvements.  In July 2012, FAA published an Aviation Environmental and Energy Policy Statement that outlines strategies and approaches necessary to meet the environmental and energy challenges that confront the U.S. civil aviation system, and includes goals for aircraft carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and fuel efficiency.  The policy statement is available here.

The FAA led the effort within the U.S. Government to prepare and submit the “United States Action Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions” to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).  The U.S. plan, submitted in June 2012 in accordance with the 2012 ICAO Assembly Resolution, exemplifies the many actions that the U.S. and FAA, in particular, are taking to reduce CO2 emissions from aviation.

The FAA is leading the technical effort within ICAO to develop an aircraft CO2 standard, and helped achieve agreement on the metric system for the standard in July 2012.  Agreement on the metric system is a critical step in developing the standard.

The U.S. Government is working to resolve the policy and legal concerns as well as the practical adverse consequences of the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS).  In November 2012, the ICAO Council agreed to create a high level group to make recommendations on further addressing greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.  Following the ICAO Council decision, the European Union (EU) suspended the application of the ETS to non-European carriers until 2014.  Also in November 2012, President Obama signed legislation giving the Secretary of Transportation the power to prohibit U.S. air carriers and aircraft operators from participating in the ETS.

What’s Next

The U.S. government is undertaking a set of strategies under NextGen and working at ICAO to reduce aviation’s CO2 emissions, as outlined in the Aviation Environmental and Energy Policy Statement and the U.S. Climate Action Plan.  We plan to provide annual updates of total U.S. aviation system greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.S. Government will continue to address global aviation CO2 emissions concerns with domestic and international governmental and industry partners, consistent with the principles adopted by ICAO.

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 5

Extend the alternative minimum tax exemption

The FAAC Final Report stated that the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) exemption for Private Activity Bonds has provided airports with significant reductions in financing costs, which has resulted in the addition of numerous construction-related jobs.  The FAAC recommended that the Secretary support Federal legislation to extend the AMT exemption.

Based upon the FAAC’s report, Department officials took note that the AMT exemption initially authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 was well received by the U.S. airport community because it allowed a number of important infrastructure projects to proceed, with lower borrowing costs than were otherwise available at the time.  Department officials also noted that the temporary AMT extension expired at the end of 2010.

In response to the FAAC, the Secretary wrote a letter to members of Congress who participated in the final negotiations to develop the surface transportation reauthorization legislation during the early part of 2012.  In the May 16, 2012 letter, Secretary LaHood stated his strong support for the AMT exemption for Private Activity Bonds.

The AMT exemption was not ultimately included in the surface transportation legislation known as the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or “MAP-21.”

What’s Next

The AMT exemption must be authorized by Congress in future legislation in order to take effect.

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 6

Funding Accelerated Equipage of Aircraft

The FAAC recommended that the Federal Government undertake a significant financial investment to achieve extensive public benefits through the accelerated NextGen equipage of commercial and general aviation aircraft.  This public-private partnership should focus on equipping aircraft and training staff to use key NextGen technology and operational capabilities, including Performance based Navigation (PBN) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS-B).

In response to this recommendation, the FAA tasked the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC), a senior aviation community advisory group, to explore various funding possibilities to promote NextGen equipage.  On September 29, 2011, the NAC provided FAA its recommendations on equipage, which also included incentives for ADS-B Out and Required Navigation Performance (RNP), which is a PBN capability.  The NAC recommendations and the FAA’s responses to these recommendations are summarized in the FAA’s 2012 update to the NextGen Implementation Plan.

The FAA is continuing its major initiative to increase the efficiency of 21 key metroplexes by implementing PBN procedures through its Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in the Metroplex program. This program has been refined to make the best use of resources and in some cases taking advantage of optimization work already in progress. Each metroplex contains busy airports in close proximity, often with smaller general aviation and military airports in the vicinity. The FAA will optimize metroplex airspace and introduce PBN procedures that will reduce route conflicts between airports, add routes, eliminate altitude restrictions and reduce restrictions due to special use airspace. The improvements will benefit operators who have already equipped for PBN and will encourage others to do so.

Additionally, the FAA is working with several air carriers (JetBlue Airways, UPS, and United Airlines) to obtain ADS-B data to validate the business case for early adoption of new equipment, including operational performance data and operator benefits.  These efforts are governed by memorandums of agreement in which both the government and the air carriers contribute to the project.

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, enacted on February 14, 2012, allows for the Department of Transportation to provide financial incentives (e.g., loan guarantees for procuring avionics equipment) that will give aviation operators from both the commercial and private sectors access to NextGen technology and benefits (Section 221).  Section 221 requires that such a financial incentive program be based on public-private partnership principles and that it maximize the use of private sector capital.  In 2012, the FAA held two public meetings and issued two market surveys to seek input from interested stakeholders about design and implementation of an equipage incentives program for commercial and general aviation operators to equip their aircraft with NextGen avionics.  The FAA proposed avionics equipment qualified for consideration in the possible loan guarantee program, and then revised the qualified equipment list based on feedback from the aviation community.

What’s Next

In response to the NAC recommendations and the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, the FAA continues to actively engage with industry to assess options that could attract additional investment in NextGen technologies and training. The FAA continues to assess implementation of a loan guarantee program, most particularly, evaluating feedback received from airspace operators and from vendors.

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 7

Delivering the benefits of NextGen

NextGen is a comprehensive overhaul of America’s National Airspace System (NAS) to make air travel more convenient and dependable, while ensuring flights are as safe, secure and hassle-free as possible. Recognizing that NextGen is imperative for the continued health of U.S. aviation, the FAAC encouraged the Secretary to support the FAA in delivering the operational capabilities, procedures, and approvals necessary for operators and the public to benefit from NextGen as quickly as possible.  The FAAC highlighted three areas in particular:  Improving the environmental review process; developing a best equipped, best served program; and leveraging the operations of the early adopters of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) or Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B).

In response to the FAAC, the FAA initiated a series of reviews to identify opportunities for improving the environmental review process.  Immediate improvements have been made, including the issuance of guidance memos on categorical exclusions for certain procedural actions, and preparation of concise, focused environmental assessments.  The FAA is finalizing an environmental pre-screening filter that will better assist the agency in determining the applicability of categorical exclusions for new air traffic procedures.

The FAA briefed the NextGen Advisory Committee, its principal industry advisory group, on NextGen environmental review requirements and the development of the NextGen NEPA Plan, a systematic plan for more effective and efficient compliance with NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act.  NEPA requires all Federal agencies to ensure that accurate and high quality environmental information is available to public officials and citizens before they make Federal decisions or take actions taken that may affect the environment.  The FAA has established a NEPA web site to make environmental review policy and guidance more accessible to stakeholders, and enhanced Air Traffic environmental screening tools for PBN procedure development to facilitate early and efficient identification of environmental impacts.

In March 2012, the FAA conducted a public meeting to discuss potential near-term implementation scenarios of a best equipped, best served program. In response to Section 222 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, the FAA is finalizing a report on operational incentives, which includes the implementation scenarios discussed at the public meeting.

The FAA will make very efficient use of airspace in a metropolitan area of several near-by airports that is referred to as Metroplex.  Each metroplex contains busy airports in close proximity, often with smaller general aviation and military airports in the vicinity. Continuing its major initiative to increase the efficiency of 21 key metroplexes, the FAA refined its Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in the Metroplex program to make the best use of resources and in some cases taking advantage of optimization work already in progress. Cleveland and Detroit were combined into one metroplex as were Orlando, Tampa and South Florida, now known as the South Central Florida metroplex. Denver, Las Vegas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York/Philadelphia and Seattle continue their independent airspace optimization and PBN activities. 

New flight paths called procedures will be implemented so that aircraft flying to different airports within a Metroplex will have their own arrival and/or departure paths. Currently aircraft often have to pass via one or more intersections in the sky before heading directly to/from their desired airports, causing some aircraft to wait until the intersection is clear. In addition, PBN procedures can reduce the number of stair-stepping as aircraft fly up/down to desired or required altitudes. Each time an aircraft must level off at a step in the stair, they must power up to maintain level flight until the next step. Powering up results in more noise and more fuel burn.  Also, since there are many areas in the highways of the sky that are restricted laterally or horizontally for military use or security, these new procedures will allow aircraft to use the maximum available space to fly over or past the restricted space. These PBN improvements will be available to operators who have already equipped with avionics in the cockpit that can make use for PBN procedures.”

Work at each metroplex, which includes studies, design and implementation, is is expected to take between 27 and 42 months to complete depending on the complexity of the site. An expedited, 24-month process is underway in the Houston metroplex, which is scheduled to be complete by the end of CY 2013. Design work was completed at Charlotte, Atlanta and Northern California metroplexes in 2012 as were the South Central Florida metroplex studies.

The ADS-B program is on pace to complete deployment early in 2014 of more than 700 ground stations and reached a milestone in 2012 in its work with ADS-B equipment configuration at key sites to resolve any problems. Key-site testing was conducted at air traffic control facilities that use all three of the FAA’s automation systems: Houston Center (ERAM), Southern California TRACON (Common Automated Radar Terminal System) and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport Control Tower (Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System). The FAA is working with industry to spur early adoption of ADS-B, which will provide precise GPS-derived surveillance throughout the NAS, with much improved surveillance in areas where today’s radar has limited or no capability.  The FAA has published documents enabling the manufacture, installation and operation of ADS-B Out avionics. This should increase industry competition to design and produce avionics and establish price stability. 

In early 2013, JetBlue will begin flying the northeast offshore and Gulf routes (the latter dedicated to ADS-B aircraft), reducing delays and saving fuel during severe weather events, times of heavy congestion, or when radar service is interrupted.  JetBlue will provide data to the FAA on the performance and operational benefits of ADS-B for affected aircraft.

The FAA also is working to enhance NextGen planning, another area that was highlighted by the FAAC. NextGen cannot be realized by government’s actions alone; many operational improvements depend on complementary planning and investment by the users of the NAS. To aid in this joint planning, the FAA has worked to enhance its NextGen planning documentation. The agency publishes its update to the NextGen Implementation Plan annually in March.  The Plan details the mid-term operational vision, the status of current implementation progress and results, and an overview of the NextGen work plan through the mid-term. The Plan and other supporting information are available at www.faa.gov/nextgen/implementation.

The FAA continues to update its NAS Implementation Plan (NSIP), the detailed internal document that captures the complete work plan for implementing operational improvements through 2015 (Segment Alpha). This latest version of the NSIP includes a high-level description of operational changes that the FAA expects to implement between 2016 and 2020 (Segment Bravo). In addition to outlining improvements being made during the mid-term, this version of the NSIP begins to incorporate Operational Sustainments, which are activities to sustain NAS services, e.g., technical refreshments or Service Life Extension Programs.  This work plan, which is intended for internal agency use, is summarized publicly in the NextGen Implementation Plan. Successful planning as represented by the detailed NSIP document is highly dependent on known, stable funding.

Good sources of information concerning NextGen developments are found at these links:

What’s Next

The FAA is implementing the NextGen NEPA Plan and Congressional environmental streamlining measures from the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

In 2013 the FAA expects to begin implementation of procedures and improvements for the DC Metro and North Texas metroplexes. Design work is also scheduled to begin in the Southern California, South Central Florida, Phoenix and California metroplexes.  The FAA will publish the mandated report on operational incentives and is continuing to actively engage with industry to assess options that could attract additional investment in NextGen technologies and training.

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 8

Expand criteria for airport AIP and PFC programs related to NextGen

This recommendation intensified FAA efforts to find alternative methods to pay for NextGen-related programs.  After this recommendation was issued, the FAA established a working group across its lines of business to review current AIP and PFC eligibility criteria for NextGen-related systems.  Since both AIP and PFC fund airport development projects, the working group reviewed which NextGen systems would be beneficial to airports. 

The group’s review resulted in two recommendations for expanded eligibility that are in direct response to the FAAC initiative.  The group found that several items eligible under AIP and PFC serve could be used to assist NextGen systems – and such items have been funded or approved at select airports  For example, the FAA has determined that obstruction clearing to enable lower approach minimums for WAAS/LPV (Wide Area Augmentation System/Localizer Performance with Vertical guidance) approaches is eligible.  Further, airfield improvements beneficial to NextGen like installation of lighting, marking, signs, weather-observation systems for airports to operate in lower approach minimums are also eligible.

What’s Next

The FAA is considering recommending, in the next FAA Reauthorization, a pilot program to permit states to fund installation of ADS-B ground stations to provide airborne surveillance coverage and improve airport throughput. This would be aimed at supplementing incomplete radar coverage, generally in the mountainous sections of the United States where radars do not track aircraft.  Aircraft must be separated by procedural rather than radar separation rules, which can significantly constrain capacity.  With ADS-B, the tracking signals of the aircraft are not lost, allowing accurate positioning of the aircraft.

The agency also is considering increasing funding for NextGen enhancements.  Through the AIP program, the agency has already funded a number of surface surveillance systems to improve airport situational awareness and safety, including in non-movement areas that are outside tower control.

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 9

Promote Global Competitiveness

In expressing support for “encourag[ing] the development of the most cost-effective and productive air transportation industry that will be best equipped to compete in the global aviation marketplace at all levels and with all types of service” ( 1995 Statement of U.S. International Aviation policy),  the FAAC identified a number of general challenges facing the Department and the airline industry.  Recovery and long-term growth of the U.S. economy will require the continued promotion of U.S. aviation industry products and services to the 95 percent of the world’s population that lives outside the United States.  When conditions that foster global competitiveness are promoted, the entire U.S. aviation community can better work towards an economically healthy and globally competitive industry and prosperous workforce. Thus, the Committee recommended that the Department take several steps to help ensure the viability and global competitiveness of the U.S. airline industry, including building upon the Department’s Open-Skies initiative and leveraging the Secretary’s appointment to the President’s Export Promotion Cabinet.

To implement the various elements of Recommendation 9, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs has established an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders.  With regard to the role of international alliances – specifically mentioned by the FAAC, the Department has sought to facilitate the exchange of information on any impediments to the implementation of alliances around the world.    The dialogue also continues the Department’s advocacy with foreign government partners.    

In addition, the Department has reviewed the process it uses to conduct its public interest analysis of alliance applications.  This will ensure that its procedures incorporate and give substantial weight to all of the existing statutory criteria.

With regard to the FAAC’s recommendation that we build and expand the Open-Skies initiative, the Department has put in place an ongoing U.S. industry outreach initiative to ensure that we have the most current information about industry priorities.  We continue to identify potential new Open Skies partners and work to facilitate implementation of rights with all U.S. aviation partners.  In addition, the Department has initiated a High Level Dialogue with the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China to promote development of the U.S.-China air transport relationship.

In response to the FAAC recommendation concerning exports, the Secretary and his team have actively facilitated market access and worked to improve the nation’s infrastructure available to exporters.  For example, based upon FAAC recommendation, the Secretary has selected several airport access projects to be funded through the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recover (TIGER) program.  Moreover, the Secretary made a presentation regarding the importance of infrastructure to the Export Promotion Cabinet.  

Our efforts in aviation that facilitate U.S. aviation exports, including negotiations to liberalize access to foreign markets that benefit the U.S. travel and tourism sector and U.S. passenger and air cargo carriers, have been recognized in the 20121 National Export Strategy report.  DOT efforts to improve the nation’s infrastructure and facilitate U.S. exporters’ access to airports are also highlighted in that report.

What’s Next

The Department will continue to apply the statutory criteria identified by the FAAC in reviewing current and future cases involving requests for antitrust immunity.  Additionally, the Department is continuing, under this outreach initiative, to meet with U.S. industry stakeholders and to work with international partners on competition and alliance issues.

The information that we receive from industry stakeholders will inform the Department’s negotiating priorities as we continue to pursue liberalization with, among others, China, Vietnam, and Mexico and to address doing business issues on an ongoing basis.  We will build on our regulatory cooperative efforts with the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China. 

Departmental efforts to increase aviation exports are continuing under the President’s National Export Initiative.

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 10

Tax Issues

The FAAC observed that taxes on the U.S. aviation industry have the unintended consequence of making travel and shipping less affordable.  In turn, these taxes also may inhibit airlines from making needed investments. 

Consequently, the FAAC recommended commissioning an independent study evaluating the Federal aviation tax burden on passengers, airlines and general aviation.  After completion of such a study, the FAAC recommended the Secretary review the results and that DOT pursue appropriate legislative and regulatory actions consistent with the findings of the study.

What’s Next

The Department is continuing to explore potential options to implement this recommendation.  In addition, it is also reviewing several alternatives to improve the quality of tax and fee data it obtains from carriers.  Currently, the relevant data are largely aggregated, making analysis more difficult and its results less definitive.

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 11

Disclosure of ancillary fees code-share operations, Airline Contracts of Carriage and air travel statistics

The FAAC determined that the Secretary should ensure transparency in air carrier pricing, the disclosure of flight operators and contracts of carriage, and in the reporting of consumer air travel statistics.  The Department has incorporated the FAAC’s concerns into its rulemaking process.

Ancillary fees:  The Department issued a final rule on April 25, 2011 (RIN 2105-AD72, 76 FR 23110) requiring that U.S. and foreign air carriers to promptly and prominently disclose any increase to their baggage fees and any change to baggage allowance on the carriers’ homepages.  The Final rule also requires each U.S. and foreign carrier to have a central webpage on its website, linked to the homepage, which lists all ancillary fees.  These portions of the rule became effective on August 23, 2011.  

With respect to airline price advertising, the final rule requires that any advertisements by U.S. and foreign air carriers and ticket agents that state a price for air transportation, an air tour or an air tour component must include the full price to be paid by the consumer, including all government-imposed taxes and fees that were previously allowed to be listed separately according to the Departmental enforcement policy.  This requirement became effective on January 24, 2012.    

Code share:  In August 2010, Congress amended 49 U.S.C. § 41712 to add a subsection (c) that requires U.S. and foreign air carriers and ticket agents to disclose in any oral, written or electronic communications with the public, prior to the ticket purchase, the name of the air carrier providing the air transportation for each flight segment.  It also provides that if the ticket offer was provided on a Web site, such information must be disclosed “on the first display of the Web site following a search of a requested itinerary in a format that is easily visible to a viewer.”

In January 2011, the Department’s Aviation Enforcement Office issued a guidance notice advising carriers and tickets agents of the amendment to 41712 and providing a 60-day window for carriers and ticket agents to revise their website advertisement to conform to the new requirement of 41712(c).   

Contracts of carriage:  The Department issued a final rule on April 25, 2011 (RIN 2105-AD72, 76 FR 23110) requiring that foreign air carriers must publish their contracts of carriage on their websites as is already required of U.S. air carriers.  This requirement became effective for foreign air carriers on August 23, 2011.

Travel statistics:  The Department has initiated a rulemaking (RIN 2105-AE11) that will propose, among other things, to require that reporting carriers to report their  code-share partners’ operating statistics, including on-time performance, mishandled baggage, and oversales.  

What’s Next

Ancillary fees:  The Department has initiated a new rulemaking (RIN 2105-AE11) that would propose to require, among other things, that ancillary fees be displayed at all points of sale of air transportation.  The Department plans to issue this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2013. 

Code share:  The Department has initiated a new rulemaking (RIN 2105-AE11) that would propose to codify the new requirement of 49 U.S.C. § 41712(c).  The Department plans to issue this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM) in 2013. 

Contracts of carriage:  The implementation of this recommendation is complete. 

Travel statistics:  The Department plans to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM) in 2013.

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 12

Intermodalism

The Advisory Committee recommended that a task force be established to identify and remove barriers to intermodalism, as well as to document the benefits from an intermodal approach. The Advisory Committee also recommended that the Task Force examine the Essential Air Service program and identify rural multimodal service opportunities for EAS-eligible communities. 

Deputy Secretary John Porcari is chairing the intermodal task force, which consists of senior DOT leadership.  In addition, DOT has convened a working group from across the modal administrations to identify opportunities for intermodalism and eliminate barriers to it. 

The Task Force has worked to identify and coordinate highway, transit, and rail projects near airports. Some members of the task force evaluated the pool of highly rated projects submitted for consideration under the Department’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program and brought the very best airport-related projects to the Secretary’s attention.  As a result, the TIGER program is funding important efforts to improve transit and highway connections to the major airports in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Chicago, and Seattle, as well as to airports in Montana and Ohio.

DOT is working with the airports community to identify tangible goals to encourage and increase intermodal options for airports.

The FAAC also triggered a reexamination of EAS for intermodal opportunities. In reviewing examples of existing intermodal services that incorporate air service, the FAAC concluded that the changing competitive structure of the U.S. air carrier industry is likely to transform travel habits of small and rural communities. 

To date, Congress has not enacted any provisions to promote intermodal alternatives to EAS.  However, the Department has worked to promote air service alternatives for all small communities, including EAS communities, through the Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP).  That program provides competitive grants to small communities for a wide range of air service development initiatives.  The Department added new language to SCASDP’s 2012 Request for Proposals to clarify that intermodal or regional solutions to air service issues, including some cost-effective bus service and marketing of intermodal surface transportation, are eligible for grants.  The Department has actively encouraged communities to submit new and innovative approaches in this area.

The Committee also recommended that legislation establishing an infrastructure bank, or any appropriate infrastructure legislation, give priority consideration to projects that link airports with other forms of transportation, such as rail and transit.  For example, transportation providers, including airports, could compete for funding to build the airport-link system.  These projects would create transportation hubs that serve multiple cities and should be done in conjunction with appropriate environmental and cost-benefit analyses.

 Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 13

Essential Air Service Reform

In offering its recommendations, the Committee acknowledged that reform of EAS must come through congressional revision of the eligibility criteria. 

The FAAC recommended that the Secretary limit communities within the contiguous 48 states that are eligible for air service subsidies to those communities receiving subsidies as of a date specific in 2010.  In addition, the FAAC recommended updating EAS eligibility to recognize that some communities may be more effectively serviced by other modes of transportation.

The Administration’s 2012 budget proposed to limit eligibility for subsidy to those communities within the contiguous 48 states that were receiving subsidized EAS service on October 1, 2011.  To generate additional program savings, the budget also proposed to waive the requirement that basic EAS include service with at least 15-seat or larger aircraft.

During 2011 and 2012, several changes to the EAS eligibility requirements were enacted.  In August 2011, Congress passed the Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2011, Public Law 112-27. Included within the Act was a provision limiting EAS eligibility to communities that had an average subsidy per passenger of less than $1,000.   

Thereafter, in February 2012, Congress passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Public Law 112-95.  Following on the FAAC recommendation and the budget proposal, that statute limits EAS eligibility to communities that received subsidized service between September30, 2010 and September 30, 2011, or during that period received a 90-day notice of intent to terminate EAS and the Secretary held in the carrier to continue providing the service.  It also limits EAS subsidy to communities that generate more than 10 enplanements per day during the most recent fiscal year beginning after September 30, 2012.  The 10-enplanement provision does not apply to communities that are more than 175 driving miles from the nearest large or medium hub airport, and neither that nor the $1,000 maximum subsidy provision applies to communities in Alaska or Hawaii.  The Secretary may waive this 10 enplanement criterion if the reason the community averages fewer than 10 enplanements is due to “a temporary decline in enplanements.”

In addition, for FY 2012, Congress removed the 15-seat requirement.  See Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, P.L. 112-55, November 18, 2011.

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 14

Jet Fuel Price Volatility

The FAAC noted that jet fuel price and supply volatility can result not only from oil price fluctuations, but also from disruptions in the downstream production and distribution of aviation fuels.  A number of major metropolitan areas and major airports have limited and aging infrastructures for the distribution of jet fuel.  In addition to oil price volatility, these weak links in the distribution network create additional threats to the economic health of the commercial air carrier and general aviation industries.  These concerns led to its further recommendation calling for a study of the downstream infrastructure for storage of such fuels.

Following up on the first recommendation, the Department forwarded formal comments to the CFTC’s rulemaking docket on March 28, 2011, concerning proposed position limits on derivative investments.  Along the lines recommended by the Advisory Committee, DOT emphasized its concerns over the disproportionate impacts that volatile prices and inordinate price increases for petroleum-based fuels had on the transportation industry.  DOT provided data showing that from 2003 a pattern of atypical price volatility and increases emerged, with volatility levels nearly doubling.  Accordingly, DOT urged the CFTC to take appropriate remedial action against excessive movements in the price of petroleum-based fuels.

On November 18, 2011, the CFTC published a final rule in the Federal Register.  The rule established speculative position limits for 28 physical contracts and commodity swaps, including oil futures.  Position limit formulas were established on an interim basis and are subject to adjustment.  Also, bona fide hedging is included among the exemptions from position limits. 

What’s Next

The Department will continue to monitor developments on the matter and will take additional steps as necessary. 

Aviation Fuel Pipeline Safety

DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration prepared a report on the safety and operational reliability of aviation fuel pipelines serving airports. The report was requested by the Future of Aviation Advisory Committee, specifically recommendation 14. 

According to the report, PHMSA has a high degree of confidence in the safety and integrity of the nation’s hazardous material liquid pipeline infrastructure, including airport jet fuel supply lines. Pipelines remain the safest way to move energy supplies to market. The regulatory programs on which PHMSA based its findings include: comprehensive safety standards and regulations, aggressive inspection and enforcement, cooperation with Industry, and Emergency Preparedness and Response to pipeline disruptions.  The report documents PHMSA’s on-going efforts to develop  regulatory and other initiatives that directly address pipeline safety and reliability and help to prevent or correct any disruptions from the distribution of aviation fuels to U.S. airports. 

As a matter of course, anomalies and leaks on jet fuel supply pipelines are repaired promptly to avoid depletion of on-airport supplies.  In fact, major disruptions of airport operations occur rarely if ever.  In addition, PHMSA’s ongoing proactive initiatives, research and mature safety oversight program, provide confidence that long term safety and reliability of jet fuel pipelines serving airports will be further assured.  Moreover, DOT’s engagement with the pipeline industry provides added emphasis and momentum to improving the long term performance and safety of hazard material liquid pipelines in the United States.  The overall experience of PHMSA oversight of the pipeline industry provides a high degree of confidence in the safety and integrity of the nations’ hazardous material liquid pipeline infrastructure, including jet fuel supply lines.  The report also provides, in Appendix A, representative examples of emergencies that might have affected jet fuel supplies, and the specific measures that were successfully undertaken in response. 

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 15

Science, Technology, Engineering & Math Education (STEM)

The FAAC recommended that the Secretary ensure coordination and focus within the Department on workforce development of STEM education.  In response to the FAAC, the Department has made broad-based efforts to increase cooperation and collaboration across the federal government, including through meetings and conferences to discuss workforce development issues in aviation, highways, rail, transit, and motor carrier safety.

Throughout 2012 and 2013, the Department brought senior staff from various operating administrations, plus representatives of the Departments of Labor and Education, together to develop a National Transportation Workforce Development Strategic Framework.  The Framework is based on an analytical foundation and draft workforce profiles of aviation, highway, rail, transit and motor carrier industries.  The Department also participated in the White House-led Federal Inventory of STEM education programs, identifying eight programs at DOT that meet the criteria.

In addition, the FAA has increased the amount of resources dedicated to aviation and aerospace education and research.  The FAA’s Aviation & Space Education (AVSED) program has a revamped website (www.faa.gov/education) to better serve teachers, students, and administrators, as well as an application for the iPad.

FAA’s Centers of Excellence have also worked to implement the FAAC Recommendation.  The Centers have helped to launch a new national award to promote STEM education in the aviation and aerospace fields.  In the spring of 2012, Secretary LaHood initiated the annual award under the America COMPETES Act framework.  The award – the Secretary’s RAISE award, which stands for Recognizing Aviation and Aerospace Innovation in Science and Engineering – creates incentives for bright high school, college, or graduate students to develop innovative solutions to every day challenges in the aviation and aerospace fields.

The first winners of the award were announced in October 2012.  The students and their teacher-mentor were recognized by the Department for their research into adaptive winglet technology, which increases the fuel efficiency of aircraft.  DOT’s work on the RAISE Award complements the agency’s sponsorship and support for the Real World Design Challenge each year.

The Department took a broad view of the FAAC’s STEM education recommendation.  To that end, DOT staff engaged in workforce development activities as well, working closely with the Departments of Education, Labor, and Veterans Affairs.  For more information about the efforts made, please visit Recommendation 17.

What’s Next

In addition to continuing the programs and policies described above, The FAA’s STEM-AVSED program will work with the FAA’s Flight Standards office on a job shadow program for high school students. This program will connect high schools with aviation maintenance facilities through a job shadow experience. The “Walk in My Boots” program is designed to address the shortage of skilled workers in the aviation maintenance field.  Additionally, the Department is proceeding to administer another round of the Secretary’s RAISE Award, with decisions due in the fall of 2013. 

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 16

State of labor/management relations

The Advisory Committee concluded that a new approach to solving traditional labor-management differences is required to provide a stable and efficient air transportation system that serves the best interests of the U.S. public.

The Dunlop Commission Reports Review Committee (Dunlop II), an independent joint labor-management committee, was established in September 2009.36 Part of its goal was to find ways to improve the mediation process and delivery of mediation services. Dunlop II issued its final report in April 2010. The Dunlop II recommendations addressed the various challenges faced in collective bargaining today—not only through improvements in the mediation process, but also through providing suggestions on how labor and management could work together more closely.

The FAAC recommended that the DOT urge the National Mediation Board (NMB) to implement the Dunlop II recommendations. The Secretary of Transportation should also advocate for adequate funding and resources to implement these recommendations. 

On May 16, 2011, Secretary LaHood sent a letter to the National Mediation Board encouraging it to implement the Dunlop II recommendations and provide adequate funding to implement those recommendations.  The move toward maintaining a vibrant, productive relationship with labor remains a focus area for the Department.

What's Next

The NMB is implementing Dunlop II recommendations.  To date, the NMB has improved its case management system and is in the process of rolling out a web-based system for all filings and requests for services.  A new mediator orientation process is in place.  Training for Mediators was conducted in 2010 and will be repeated in future years.  This is planned as an annual event, above and in addition to the routine training that is part of every Mediator’s Individual Development Plan.  The NMB has created the Arbitrator Forum, a working group consisting of rail carrier and labor representatives, to guide improvements and developments in the Section 3 area.  The NMB has also become more active in addressing industry conferences and conventions regarding its range of mediation and facilitation services.

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 17

Workforce/Management Conference

The FAAC recommended a semi-annual Aviation Industry Workforce-Management Conference to “keep the conversation going.”  The point of the recommendation is to help bridge the gap of information and understanding that generally exists today between the aviation workforce and its management, with the ultimate goal of a healthier industry for all. 

The first Semi-Annual Aviation Workforce Management Conference was held September 21, 2011, in the West Atrium of the Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington, D.C., from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Secretary LaHood,  co-hosted the conference with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

The conference focused on the need for a future workforce with solid foundations in science, technology, engineering and math and best practices for addressing labor/management issues.  Secretaries LaHood, Solis, and Duncan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to foster the development of a skilled workforce in STEM disciplines.

A transcribed record of the September 21, 2011 meeting, with a copy of the MOU, can be found here Report on the September 21, 2011 Aviation Workforce-Management Conference

A second semi-annual workforce management conference was held June 21, 2012, also at DOT headquarters.  Secretary LaHood again hosted the event.  He conducted a fireside chat with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.  Approximately 170 people attended. 

The conference highlighted the need to help veterans transition to the civilian sector.  Secretary LaHood and Secretary Shinseki jointly announced a web portal to aid veterans in their job searches.

The conference also featured an update of the MOU signed at last September.  The update was given by FAA Assistant Administrator for Finance and Management Victoria Wassmer.

Three panels were held:

Anatomy of Successful Workforce Management; Spurring Workforce Development; and Improving a Safety Record that is Second to None.

A transcribed record of the June 21, 2012 meeting can be found here Report on the June 21, 2012 Aviation Workforce-Management Conference

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 18

Seek comprehensive legal protection for voluntary and mandated safety data programs and information

The Advisory Committee recognized the need to acquire data beyond what is collected from an accident investigation.  The sheer volume of flights expected in the near future requires greater emphasis on acquiring, sharing and analyzing aviation safety data in a collaborative environment.  This becomes especially important as historical accident causes are effectively eliminated.  The evolving aviation environment will likely introduce new threats that must be identified and addressed before they lead to accidents. 

Voluntary reporting efforts such as ASAP (Aviation Safety Action Program) and FOQA (Flight Quality Assurance) give airlines and government insight into millions of operations so that potential safety issues and trends can be identified.  The Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) program ties together the safety databases across the industry and is integrated into the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) process.  CAST is a joint government/industry initiative using an integrated, data-driven strategy to reduce the commercial aviation fatality risk in the United States. The ASIAS program is evolving but has matured to the point that the FAA can now look at data from air carriers representing 80 percent of U.S. commercial operations and identify emerging vulnerabilities and trends.

This recommendation specifically requests that the Secretary of Transportation seek comprehensive legal protections for voluntary and mandated safety data programs and information to ensure their continued benefits to safety.  The Secretary should pursue essential legislative action that is vital to provide ongoing protection of safety information sharing systems in the United States, and work with the Congress to introduce such legislation at the soonest possible opportunity.

Aimed specifically at addressing this recommendation, the FAA on January 7, 2011, drafted and submitted proposed legislative language for inclusion in the FAA Reauthorization Bill.  The proposed language would provide protection from public disclosure for hazard identification, risk control and safety assurance data produced under an accepted SMS program.

What’s Next

Statutory language addressing this recommendation was included in the FAA Reauthorization bill on February 14, 2012. 

With statutory provisions in place, industry and government can promote a Safety Management Systems culture in which everyone is seen as having safety responsibilities and an ability to share data about safety matters without the fear of government disclosure. 

Date of this update:  June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 19

Aviation system predictive safety risk discovery capability

The Advisory Committee recognized the need to maintain and protect voluntary safety programs that provide data that can be used to predict accident causes.  The Committee recommended that the FAA and the DOT improve funding for ASIAS, the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing program.

A detailed, multi-year program plan for ASIAS has been developed that includes funding and personnel requirements that would increase the number of commercial airline operators participating in ASIAS, expand it to include other segments of the aviation community (including helicopters and general aviation), develop industry-wide data quality standards for data used in ASIAS and to develop advanced analysis tools and methods to support automated identification of previously unknown issues or accident precursors. Based upon the funding requirements determined within this plan, a request for additional 2012 funding was submitted by DOT.  The FY'12 budget for the ASIAS initiative was approved in an amount equal to the FY'11 budget.

What’s Next

ASIAS technical and programmatic plans as well as funding requirements for the period 2013 through 2017 have been presented to the FAA Joint Resource Council. The Council affirmed ASIAS as a high priority program that should be funded. The Council members voiced support for the level of funding presented, which would be a 45% increase over the 2012 level for each of the out years. The Council will review the ASIAS program yearly or prior to any suggested adjustments.

Date of this update:  June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 20

New sources of safety data

The FAAC recognized the need to bring Flight Operations and Quality Assurance (FOQA) data into ASIAS, beyond what is currently captured under Part 121 operations.  This activity will move ASIAS closer to acquiring general aviation (GA), corporate and helicopter FOQA data for use in proactive safety programs.  The sheer volume of flights expected in the near future requires greater emphasis on acquiring, sharing and analyzing aviation safety data in a collaborative environment.  This becomes especially important as historical accident causes are effectively eliminated. 

The evolving aviation environment will likely introduce new threats that must be identified and addressed before they lead to accidents.  By including Part 121, GA, corporate and helicopter operations in ASIAS, we will better understand the NAS as a while and be able to identify systemic problems before they lead to an accident or serious incident.

FOQA data from these operations give airlines, operators and government insight into millions of operations so that potential safety issues and trends can be identified.  The Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) program ties together these data and other safety databases across the industry.   These data and tools are integrated into the CAST (Commercial Aviation Safety Team) and, in the future, the GA JSC (General Aviation Joint Steering Committee) processes. CAST and the GA JSC will use these data for risk identification and mitigation.  The ASIAS program is evolving but has matured to the point that the FAA can now look at data from air carriers representing 80 percent of U.S. commercial operations and identify emerging vulnerabilities and trends. When included, the GA, corporate and helicopter data will help to identify issues not currently captured in the commercial operations, giving a more complete view of all aviation operations in the U.S.

This recommendation specifically requests that the FAA identify new and valuable sources of safety data for ASIAS, and establish the criteria for when and how those sources will be included.

Aimed specifically at addressing this recommendation, the FAA has been working with the GA, corporate and helicopter communities to bring FOQA data from these operations into ASIAS.  As part of this work, ASIAS has begun receiving data from a major helicopter manufacturer.  This work has also included sponsoring research and tool development through the Center of Excellence for General Aviation Research (CGAR) and meeting with GA, corporate and helicopter operators to identify possible participants for a test group.  We have also been working with the aviation insurance industry, who has also expressed interest in participating.  To aid the inclusion of these data sources, the FAA has started designing the infrastructure to begin collecting these data and bringing them into ASIAS.

What’s Next

The first set of GA flights has been received and has been validated by MITRE.  The process for importing both the remaining and future data is now being built.  Profiles for events to be studied and trended have been built for this for this first set of data and additional profiles will be developed as more aircraft fleets are added to ASIAS.  Additional flight and supporting data will continue to be added, helping to form a more complete picture of the National Airspace System (NAS) in ASIAS.  This past summer, the Center of Excellence for GA Research (CGAR) began testing of the National General Aviation Flight Information Database (NGAFID).  This will be a central repository of GA FOQA data from GA pilots and operators that will feed into ASIAS.  CGAR has begun testing of the GA FOQA web tools, which will begin to bring the broader GA community data into ASIAS and NGAFID.

The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee's (GA JSC) has chartered its second working group to analyze the remaining Loss of Control (LOC) accidents.   This group will be finishing their work in June of this 2013.  One of the outputs from the researchers on this working group will be the building of profiles to identify LOC precursors that could be identified in these flight data.  Additional profiles will be built during each future GA JSC working group, allowing ASIAS to help pilots and operators identify risks before they lead to an accident. 

To support the growth of business and GA in ASIAS we have begun to develop the Procedures and Operations (P&O) plan.  This document is intended to provide a roadmap for accessing and processing proprietary safety data, analyze aggregate industry safety data, identify problem areas, measure the effectiveness of those actions and share the conclusions among stakeholders.

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 21

The Secretary should ensure that safety performance standards and training are embedded into NextGen planning, implementation, and monitoring

The FAA recognizes the need to revolutionize the way it identifies, evaluates, and manages safety concerns in the National Airspace System (NAS). One fundamental requirement is the integration of safety assessment and hazard mitigation methodologies into the design, development, and acquisition process for NextGen programs, equipment, and procedures.

In order to meet this challenge, the FAA established a Safety Management System (SMS) that integrates the flow of information and resources across multiple elements of the agency. A committee was created to provide guidance and support concerning SMS implementation within the FAA. The committee determined that Safety Risk Management (SRM) – the cornerstone of the FAA SMS – requires extensive development and review to ensure the program’s success.  

At the direction of the SMS Committee, an integrated safety assessment policy team was chartered to:

  • Define joint agency goals for an integrated safety analysis approach
  • Identify gaps or shortfalls in current integrated practice
  • Provide guidance regarding safety policy
  • Gather information on safety analysis approaches
  • Provide a report of its findings and policy recommendations to the FAA SMS Committee.
The integrated safety assessment policy team delivered its findings and recommendations to the FAA SMS Committee July 2011.

What’s Next

As we transition to NextGen, the planning, implementation and monitoring functions must have a standard, integrated approach to safety risk management.  A policy (Safety Risk Management Policy, Order 8040.4) was published on April 30, 2012, which includes requirements to perform integrated safety assessments.  With these integrate safety assessments, hazards and risk information will be more efficiently shared among all stakeholders, including those that make decisions on NextGen planning and implementation.  It will also assist in aligning and communicating our mitigation strategies to ensure proper solutions are implemented across the agency (stakeholders).  It stresses the need for front-end assessment and planning.

Date of this update:  June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 22

Rulemaking priorities

In direct response to this recommendation by the FAAC, the FAA asked the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) to provide advice and recommendations on how to prioritize rulemaking projects.  The notice of the original task and request for industry participation was published in the Federal Register on April 19, 2011.  Industry responded positively to the request, enabling the Committee to create the Rulemaking Prioritization Working Group (RPWG), which consists of members representing all facets of the aviation industry.

The RPWG presented the final recommendation report detailing how the FAA should prioritize its rulemaking program to ARAC in December 2011.  ARAC submitted the report to the FAA on December 16, 2011. 

As a result of the FAA’s review of the RPWG’s recommendations from December 2011, the FAA re-tasked the RPWG to further test and refine the recommended prioritization process.   The tasking notice was published in the Federal Register on May 10, 2012.  On December 6, 2012, the RPWG submitted and presented the final recommendation report explaining the results of the testing and changes to the originally submitted prioritized process.  Both of the ARAC recommendations are publicly available on the FAA's 'Committee' website.  

What’s Next

The FAA intends to implement a prioritization process within fiscal year 2013 based on the RPWG’s recommended prioritization process.

Date of Update: June, 2013

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FAAC Recommendation 23

Child safety for air travel

The FAAC recommendation bolstered FAA efforts to use partnerships, FAA.gov, social media, and traditional methods to continuously reach parents. It also prompted the FAA to update the economic and safety data on families flying with small children.

For the past 17 years, the FAA has told the public that the safest place for a small child on an airplane is in an approved child safety seat, not on a parent’s lap. In 2011, the agency teamed with the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) and held a media briefing to educate passengers about the top five actions they can take to fly safe during the summer travel season. The FAA also partnered with Toys ’R Us, which disseminated the FAA’s child safety recommendations on online and at some stores. The FAA’s website FAA.gov  featured child safety tips, links to child restraint and CARES device installations demos, an advertisement, a passenger safety tips page, a news releases, a joint FAA/AFA summer travel announcement under News & Updates, and broadcast quality video and audio from the FAA Administrator and AFA International President Veda Shook. The FAA used social media, including Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s Fast Lane blog at DOT.gov, as well as Facebook and Twitter on a regular basis to encourage organizations to link to FAA.gov.

In May 2012 as part of National Transportation Week, the FAA launched a new effort to educate parents so they can make informed choices about their child’s safety when they fly. Secretary of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta called on organizations, businesses, and media with an interest in child injury prevention to join the outreach efforts to parents. The Association of Flight Attendants, Airlines for America, Consumers Union, Parent Media Group and the American Academy of Pediatrics worked with the FAA to share safety information with parents and caregivers.  The FAA called on child safety advocates and media to help parents connect with the FAA by linking directly to the FAA’s new child safety web page. The site has travel tips for parents, new FAA child safety icons that can be loaded onto any website, a video demonstration on how to properly install a child safety seat or device on an airplane, and tips for using child safety seats for children and adults with special needs. Broadcast quality audio from Acting Administrator Huerta discussing child safety and safe summer travel was also available for download and child safety was featured in Secretary LaHood’s Lane blog.

The FAA update of the economic and safety data on families flying with small children supports the agency’s long standing position that a government mandate would result in an unintended consequence of a net increase in transportation fatalities. It reiterates that an infant is safest in a safety seat. Children under two fly for free on U.S. airlines. Cost is a factor for parents. An FAA mandate could force some parents to drive, a less safe mode of transportation, instead of fly to their destination. Flying is the safest way for families to travel. In fact, the fatality risk on commercial flights has decreased by 83 percent over the past 10 years. The use of child restraint systems could have prevented three infant deaths in the past 32 years. There have been no preventable infant deaths on airline flights in 17 years. While the updated data does not support a federal mandate, the FAA is renewing its efforts to educate parents so they can make informed decisions about their child’s safety when they fly.

What’s Next

The FAA continues to push their safety message via child safety advocacy organizations and media. Outreach via social media and traditional pitching was done for the 2012 holiday travel season and will continue monthly.

Date of Update: June, 2013

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Updated: Sunday, June 23, 2013