US proposes FAA NextGen czar post

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New legislation in the final throes of approval by the US Congress will create a "Chief NextGen Officer" within the US Federal Aviation Administration to head up all next generation air transportation system (NextGen) activities "across all programme offices" of the FAA, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by Flightglobal on 1 February.

The bill, titled the FAA Modernisation and Reform Act of 2012, is currently in the conference committee process. Industry observers expect both chambers of Congress to approve the conference committee version of the bill, which will provide the FAA with $64 billion in funding for the next four years, by week's end. President Obama is expected to sign the final bill thereafter.

Appointed by the FAA Administrator for a five-year term, the chief NextGen officer (CNO) "shall have a demonstrated ability to manage and knowledge of or experience in aviation and systems engineering", the bill stated.

In addition to developing the budget request for NextGen activities, the CNO is to be tasked with developing an annual NextGen implementation plan, allowing for the injection of "novel or currently unknown technologies" into the NextGen system and not "biasing" future decisions "unfairly in favour of existing technology at the expense of innovation," according to the bill.