Congressman Lipinski, Chairman Costello, and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Explore NextGen's Benefits for Chicago Aviation and the Economy (January 26, 2010)

Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03), House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Costello (IL-12), and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum Tuesday to discuss ongoing efforts to expand capacity, enhance safety, and reduce delays, pollution, and noise at O'Hare and Midway airports under the Next Generation Air Transportation System project. NextGen will transform America's air traffic control system from the ground-based radar of the past 60 years to a safer, more efficient satellite-based system.

"We've got GPS devices in our cars, but our aircraft still rely on radar technology that dates back to World War II," Congressman Lipinski said. "Moving to a system that takes advantage of the latest satellite technology will cut down on delays while saving fuel, increasing safety, and reducing noise in airport communities – something critically important around Midway Airport. It will also ensure that Chicago's airports continue to serve as economic engines and an important source of jobs for our region. As a member of the House Aviation Subcommittee, I'm going to be working with Chairman Costello to make sure that NextGen fulfills its promise and delivers real benefits both to Chicagoland and the nation."

The number of passengers on U.S. airlines is expected to increase from 757 million in 2008 to 1 billion by 2021, and delays already cost an estimated $9.4 billion annually. Improvements under NextGen will enable O'Hare and Midway to cut down on delays while handling their share of traffic growth, maintaining Chicago's position as a leading global passenger and air freight hub. Together, the two airports create $45 billion in economic activity and support 540,000 jobs.

At the forum, Dr. Michael Romanowski, Director of FAA's NextGen Implementation and Integration Office, provided a packed house of aviation, business, and labor leaders with an overview of NextGen and an update on progress toward deploying cost-saving technologies that will improve efficiency and safety both in the skies over Chicago and on the ground in the coming years. These technologies include systems that will vastly increase pilots' access to essential weather and flight traffic information and help aircraft to fly shorter routes, reduce descent times and therefore noise around airports, save fuel, and eliminate conflicts between Midway and O'Hare that cause delays.

"I don't know of anybody that doesn't support NextGen," Chairman Costello said. "Modernizing our aviation system to meet future demand is something we simply must do. Congressman Lipinski is a great advocate for air passengers and for O'Hare and Midway, and I'm looking forward to continuing to work with him on my subcommittee to move NextGen forward and improve air travel nationwide."

(January 26, 2010)