Monday's announcement comes on the heels of an executive order signed last week by President Bush ordering the agencies involved in the development of NextGen -- the Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security and Transportation departments -- to treat the project as high priority. Takemoto called Bush's statement "much-needed, high-level White House approval of what we're doing" and added that the order provided FAA with "much-needed validation."
Some aviation associations, however, questioned the timing of the order. "Why is the executive order coming 60 days before we have a new president?" asked Steve Lott, spokesman for the International Air Transport Association, which represents 230 airlines worldwide. "We just don't think the Bush White House has gone far enough."
Lott said his organization was disappointed it hasn't seen more progress on NextGen because the initiative was first proposed before Bush took office. He said the administration has focused on other measures to relieve air traffic congestion, including capping the number of flights at airports and auctioning off arrival and departure times at major airports during the most crowded periods of the day. But the association is hopeful that the Obama administration will focus more on delivering the NextGen system.
"A plan to roll out NextGen is not new, but we certainly welcome any attempt to revitalize or put new focus on that plan," Lott said. "We were also in favor of [Bush's] efforts to bring all those different agencies to the table."