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FAA Definition: NextGen is the evolution of the NAS to a more advance state, which makes better use of technology and design to more efficiently meet transportation needs.
Different types of NextGen tools will require airports and other stakeholders to invest capital resources to take full advantage of associated benefits. An example is Terminal Flight Data Manager (TFDM), where the airport and other stakeholders must be able to interface with the system through TFDM workstations for this NextGen project and associated functionality to be fully exploited for information sharing and situational awareness. The costs to purchase the workstations, additional costs for stakeholders for training and operation, costs to maintain the system, rental costs, location costs, and writing internal procedures on how to manage and operate the tool for airport benefit are all concerns. There is a distinct potential for additional Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding to the airport for the acquisition of components of these NextGen system upgrades, but the other non-eligible costs (e.g., personnel) will also have an effect on individual airports and their bottom line.
Direct impacts to Airlines and indirect impacts to Airports from the implementation of PBN procedures, including RNAV and RNP-type procedures, have the potential to increase operations in addition to providing safer, more predictable, and potentially environmentally friendlier arrivals and departures. These new procedures have the potential to affect the amount of aircraft landing and arriving at an airport. Often, proposed PBN route changes near the airport concentrate aircraft flow over a narrow band of homes or offices in the community, leading to noise complaints. Airport capacity changes directly impact operations and procedures on the airport surface, where the airport may experience specific airport surface capacity issues, creating bottlenecks that have the potential to drive requirements for additional support equipment or personnel.
Changes to equipment require support personnel to operate and maintain these expanded suites of equipment, where airports may not presently be aware of requirements for implementing these upgrades along with their portion of associated costs for these upgrades. The airlines and traveling public carry the bulk of financial obligation through the various fees and taxes for using airports, along with FAA source funding for NextGen projects. As a result, the airport incurs an indirect value and indirect impact from the NextGen enhancement. If the aircraft arrival/departure volume is condensed with greater amounts of traffic in a given period of time, the airport will require more personnel during that time period and potentially reduced staffing if the traffic wanes during other time periods. Increasing the concentration of traffic is probably not what NextGen will do to an airport but a possible result for airline profitability. Another downside is the delay factor. Concentrating traffic in a short amount of time results in capacity problems and delays.