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In order to facilitate a significant overhaul of the civilian National Airspace System (NAS), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has partnered with many federal agencies, such as the departments of Transportation (DOT), Defense (DoD), Homeland Security (DHS), and Commerce (DOC) and the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) through a consolidated Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) that was established by Congress in 2003 in the VISION 100 – Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act (JPDO, 2012). The JPDO has proposed replacing the old NAS structure of primarily ground-based navigation with robust satellite-enabled air traffic procedures and to supplement ground-based air traffic controller workload with advanced datalink and trajectory-based operations algorithms for de-conflicting aircraft on the ground and in the air. The hope is to reduce the required separation between aircraft and the decrease the human workload, without sacrificing safety. Department of Defense (DoD) leaders should consider lessons learned from past decisions with regard to cost avoidance versus cost savings following the smaller domestic airspace change, reduced vertical separation minimum (RVSM). The lost cost savings from non-participation in RVSM airspace may be larger than was anticipated, and the cost savings from non-participation in NextGen will probably be a much more expensive. Non-participation may prove to be a barrier to domestic military operations outside of special use airspace (SUA) for aircraft above 10,000 feet and will not meet the objectives of Joint Force 2020. Cost avoidance by non-participation would probably be a poor choice by DoD leaders.


Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University


Daytona Beach, FL

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Author Note

The author, Casey Richardson, is a US Air Force Major and F16 test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base, California. He has more than 2000 flight hours in high performance aircraft including the T-38A/C, F-15E, and various models of the F-16. He is a graduate of USAF Test Pilot School and post-graduate student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.