U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Randy Babbitt and JetBlue represented by Dave held a press conference at DCA yesterday to announce a NextGen agreement that will further efforts to upgrade the nation’s air transportation system. The announcement follows President Obama’s State of the Union Address, in which he stressed the importance of winning the future by partnering with the private sector to out-innovate and out-compete the rest of the world.
The announcement was about an NextGen agreement that we signed with the FAA that will allow us to fly more precise, satellite-based flights from Boston and New York to Florida and the Caribbean beginning in 2012.
Under the agreement, up to 35 of our A320 aircraft will be equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) avionics over the next two years, enabling us to fly in relatively uncongested corridors in the skies off the East Coast. The agreement will allow us to fly a new flight path to the Caribbean, and could lead to the development of two new, more efficient ADS-B-only routes to the Caribbean from Boston, New York and Washington. The FAA will collect valuable NextGen data by observing and conducting real-time operational evaluations of ADS-B on revenue flights.
The FAA has agreed to pay $4.2 million for the ADS-B avionics. We will provide flight operations, pilots, and aircraft maintenance and will pay for the cost of aircraft downtime while the ADS-B avionics are installed. We will also fund the necessary training for dispatchers and flight crews, including simulator time. We will demonstrate the cost savings of ADS-B technology as part of the agreement, and then equip the rest of our A320 fleet at our own expense.