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Consultant: FAA on “right street” with NextGen architecture

Officials with the Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC) say the US Federal Aviation Administration is "headed down the right street" with its architecture for the next generation air transportation system (NextGen) in the 2025 timeframe.

The high level "company-neutral" overview, which was provided by experts from 13 of the more than 90 member companies from 19 countries that make up the consortium, is the first deliverable in a five-year $10 million OTA contract issued by the FAA in July.

The non-competed other transaction agreement (OTA) provides the FAA with guidance about NextGen architecture, particarly as it relates to the network centric operations aspects, where each aircraft will represent a node on the network. Participating companies, which included Boeing, BAE and EADS for the first FAA task, bid on the work and are repaid at 50 cents on the dollar for their time. NCOIC had earlier provided two technical reviews, or white papers, to the FAA regarding a comparison of NextGen with the European equivalent, SESAR, and the FAA's information exchange security plan.

NCOIC was formed five years ago in part to provide company-neutral engineering guidance for tasks such as NextGen. Officials say the consortium is currently working on about 30 projects.

As part of the first task, NCOIC participants determined that while the FAA was generally on track, more clarification was needed on the intended interoperability of NextGen with European and international systems. Other areas that need attention are the interrelationships between voice and data communications, clarity on the role of satellite navigation, more details on how weather information is gathered and used and methods for inserting emerging technologies into NextGen over time. Comments received by the FAA are deidentified.

NCOIC officials say the next task has not been defined, but could include gaining a better understanding of how technologies in the NextGen roadmap "interplay" with the architecture as written for the 2025 NextGen operational state.

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