Air Force Will Not Meet 2020 FAA Mandate

The Air Force will not be fully compliant with a Federal Aviation Administration mandate requiring next generation tracking systems on all airplanes in US civilian airspace by Jan. 1, 2020, a group of top generals said. “No operational bombers will be compliant by that time,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Fortney, vice commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, in testimony delivered before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. Non-compliant aircraft will have “restricted access to airspace starting in 2020,” Fortney said. Compliance will not be complete across the entire Air Force fleet until “beyond 2025,” said Brig. Gen. David Nahom, the deputy director of plans and programs for Air Combat Command. The generals said increased warfighting demand, the need to prioritize spending elsewhere in light of budgetary constraints, and a desire to achieve greater efficiencies by combining avionics upgrades with other modernization tasks has limited the ability to pull aircraft from operations. In the meantime, the Air Force is working with FAA to develop a memorandum of agreement to provide exemptions and mitigate impact, but no such agreement has currently been finalized. Aircraft that are not compliant would be “prohibited from flying in class A, B, and C airspace and flights above 10,000 feet,” Fortney said. Congress notified the armed forces of the need to upgrade to the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast tracking system in 2012.