Washington, D.C. – Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) today held a hearing, Transforming America’s Air Travel, reviewing research programs within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The hearing also reviewed challenges within the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), including cyber security concerns.

Chairman Babin: “While we currently enjoy the benefits of our nation’s early investments in aeronautics R&D, other nations are now attempting to challenge our leadership. In order to maintain our leadership, we must strategically prioritize our government investments, provide a competitive environment for industry, and coordinate and clearly define public and private sector efforts to maximize efficiencies and minimize duplication that may crowd-out investment.

“NextGen continues to lack clearly defined cost, schedule, and performance parameters. Last year, the FAA Inspector General testified that the initial cost estimate of $40 billion split between federal and private sector investment could double or triple, and that implementation could take an additional decade. This is unacceptable. Congress either needs better baselines and metrics to track progress, or a different plan from the FAA. Respected and knowledgeable experts, such as the Government Accountability Office and the National Research Council, have also warned that cyber security should play a more prominent role in NextGen development.” 

NextGen is the proposal to transform America’s air traffic control system from a ground-based system to a satellite-based system. Just this week, the Department of Transportation Inspector General announced it is launching an audit of NextGen research and development. 

The following witnesses testified today:

Dr. Jaiwon Shin, Associate Administrator, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, NASA; Member, FAA Research and Development Advisory Committee 

Mr. Dennis Filler, Director, William J. Hughes Technical Center, FAA 

Mr. William Leber, Co-Chair, Committee to Review the Federal Aviation Administration Research Plan on Certification of New Technologies into the National Airspace System; Vice-President, Air Traffic Innovations, PASSUR Aerospace

Dr. R. John Hansman, T. Wilson Professor of Aeronautics & Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Director, MIT International Center for Air Transportation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Chair, FAA Research and Development Advisory Committee

Dr. Greg Hyslop, Senior Member, American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics; Vice President and General Manager, Boeing Research & Technology, the Boeing Company; Chief Engineer, Engineering, Operations & Technology, the Boeing Company

For additional information on today’s hearing, including witness testimony and the archived webcast, visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.