Summer of 1994 was one of the rare times where control of the White House, the Senate, and the House was owned by one party, in this case the Democrats. In aviation, 1994 was a time of transition into the use of new GPS technologies.
To put it into context, it was two years later, in 1996, that GPS took center stage in the newest round of proposals (or would ‘schemes’ be a better word?) to secure billions to fund another upgrade of ATC technologies. We had seen hellish commercial accidents (ValuJet 592 in May 1996, and TWA 800 in July 1996) as well as the abrupt resignation of DoT Inspector General Mary Schiavo (due to industry and internal opposition against her aggressive stance on FAA regulatory failures), and we were in the middle of the General Election of 1996, when incumbent President Clinton created the ‘White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security’, chaired by Al Gore. The testimony and the final report drifted far from the ‘security’ aspect, instead emphasizing ‘efficiency’ changes to be achieved using GPS. And, then too, despite the effort by this commission and spin by the administration, five years later we had a total breakdown of aviation security on September 11th.
Twelve years later, two things happened:
- in June 2006, Al Gore’s movie ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ made CO2 pollution and climate change a ‘popular concern’
- and then, in the Fall of 2006, the label ‘NextGen’ was first applied by FAA Administrator Marion Blakey as a brand name for supposedly ‘new’ GPS-based aviation management tools.
And here we are, another ten years further along, and both FAA/Industry are continuing to propagandize for greater NextGen spending, but with almost no tangible benefits beyond what we were already able to do more than two decades ago.
How is this all relevant to the CatEx-approved version of NextGen being imposed since 2012? Well, reducing CO2 has now become one of the Av-Gov Complex’s key justifications for imposing noise impacts; i.e, they are trading noise pollution against CO2 pollution and thus Climate Change (…really! …they want us to believe that Congress believes in Climate Change enough to give FAA approval to NOT conduct environmental reviews so long as CO2 will be reduced by the proposal).
On top of that, as another key element of the NextGen Fraud, they are careful to not talk about the significant enroute delays being imposed to facilitate the appearance that arrivals (in the last 100-miles or so) are less subject to holding patterns, long downwinds, delay vectoring, and other inefficiencies. With NextGen, FAA is making airports look more efficient, simply because they have offset the inefficiencies into the enroute portion of the flights. It’s all just smoke and mirrors.
The 140-pages in this Congressional hearing transcript (with submitted letters, etc.) is illuminating. It helps to clarify not just the goals of 1994, but the spin models used then and still used today.