The FAA’s NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC) will reconvene after a nine-month hiatus with a new industry chairman and under the direction of a new FAA administrator.

US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on July 25 named Russell “Chip” Childs, president and CEO of regional carrier SkyWest Airlines, as the new chairman of the committee of senior industry, association and government executives that recommends investment priorities for the NextGen air traffic control (ATC) modernization effort.

Childs succeeds David Bronczek, who retired as FedEx Corp. president and CEO in February, as NAC chairman. The committee’s designated federal officer is the FAA administrator, a post that former Delta Air Lines SVP-flight operations Steve Dickson will take over from acting administrator Dan Elwell now that Dickson’s nomination has been confirmed by the US Senate.

Both Dickson and Childs have previously participated on the NAC as airline representatives. Childs will serve as chairman through the current term of the NAC charter, which is June 8, 2020, according to Chao’s announcement.

While he served as chairman, Bronczek initiated one of the NAC’s current focuses, to concentrate NextGen air traffic management improvements in the congested Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington.

The full committee last convened in October 2018. When the NAC meets again on July 30 at MITRE Corp., in McLean, Virginia, it will consider a “Minimum Capabilities List” (MCL) of avionics developed by a working group to resolve mixed equipage capabilities of primarily regional airliners—considered a major risk to accomplishing the operational benefits of performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures in the Northeast Corridor and elsewhere.

At the June 2018 meeting of the NAC, Childs said regional airlines needed clarity from major carriers and the FAA regarding NextGen equipage requirements. He presented a graphic depicting 15 US regional airlines that operated 446 aircraft in the Northeast Corridor. Regionals that are wholly owned by major carriers operated about 200 of those aircraft.

SkyWest Airlines, based in St. George, Utah, is independently owned. It operates a fleet of 485 aircraft through partnerships with Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

The MCL recommends equipment capabilities that should be forward-fit on new aircraft to perform PBN procedures and data communications, plus provide “resiliency” using inertial reference sensors to cover for the loss of GPS signals because of jamming or hardware failures. A fourth capability—to report an aircraft’s position by automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) Out signaling—is required by the FAA as of January 2020.

Childs reported at the June 2018 NAC meeting that only 33% of the US regional aircraft fleet was equipped for ADS-B Out.

In a statement provided to ATW, Childs said he is “humbled to be appointed as chair of the FAA’s NextGen Advisory Committee. We believe the committee’s role to advance NextGen across all facets of aviation is critical to our ongoing evolution and success, and I look forward to continuing our work to build consensus and execute on a plan for progress.”

Bill Carey, bill.carey@aviationweek.com