NextGen and jetBlue get a helping hand

The FAA is hoping to give its NextGen air traffic system a boost by paying jetBlue over $4million to equip 35 jetBlue aircraft with new navigation systems.  It’s hoped that by giving this push, the rest of the industry will embrace adopting these systems quicker and in greater quantity.

So far, many airlines have argued that the FAA should pay them to install these systems.  I think the airline industry has had enough government support for the last decade and its time to get going on investing in their business.  (Not for nothing, this is what happens when you continually save airlines from liquidation via government loans and liberal bankruptcy laws.)

The FAA’s NextGen GPS based system will have a system of ground stations covering the country by 2013 and all airlines will be required to use the system by 2020.  But the FAA also recognizes that if it can get airlines to buy into the improvements sooner than later, it can pull its schedule forward and realize some real gains now rather than later.

Here’s the best reason to adopt these new systems:  they pay for themselves.  Southwest is already making use of this kind of system to better orchestrate its own operations and now expects annual savings of up to $60 million / year.  You can equip a lot of aircraft for $60 million in found money.

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