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Terminals are a critical piece of the airport system, they must efficiently transition passengers between ground services and their awaiting flights.  To accomplish that goal, terminals host a number of functions including:

  • Passenger ticketing 
  • Baggage check-in and retrieval 
  • Security checking 
  • Holding areas for departing and connecting passengers waiting at gates to board aircraft 
  • Areas for "meters and greeters" 
  • Convenience areas for passengers so they can dine or shop 
  • Circulation space allowing passengers to move from gate to gate and elsewhere in the terminal 
  • Ground access connections, including rental car service, shuttle buses and connections to local transit.
These important functions must be designed with the airside reality in mind - especially where the landside and airside meet, at the gates. Terminals are designed to accommodate aircraft in and out of the gate areas as effectively and efficiently as possible, and provide space for ramp towers that control the movements of aircraft in the terminal area.   The seamless integration of ground transportation services is another critical terminal component, which ideally provides a variety of transportation options (private auto, taxi, buses, rail, etc..) for arriving and departing passengers. 
LGA has four terminals, with over half of its traffic served by the Central Terminal Building (CTB). This structure is owned and operated by the Port Authority and has circulation constraints and limited gate capacity.  The Port Authority is planning to replace the CTB with a modern structure that will address these limitations and just recently starting planning and designing the new terminal. 
The design of EWR's three terminals is largely uniform since they were designed and built together in the 1970s. Terminals A and B were completed and opened in 1973, while Terminal C sat empty until 1988 when it was completed for People's Express. They all either have finger piers or satellite with finger piers configurations.  
Currently, in bad weather conditions ILS approaches on 13R at Kennedy essentially limit LaGuardia to just one runway. NextGen would remove this conflict by allowing aircraft to use the closer-in curved approach under all weather conditions. 
Right now, at Newark it's not possible to conduct simultaneous operations its parallel runways because they are only separated by 950 ft, making the wake vortex a concern for air traffic controllers. A combination of NextGen technologies would allow Newark to operate both of these runways at the same time. This would increase Newark's capacity and operational flexibility. 
The benefits of NextGen continue with ADS-B (Automated Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast). This program uses the GPS constellation and digital communications to replace conventional radar as the means of locating the position of aircraft. 
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NextGen will transform the way aircraft communicate with each other and with air traffic controllers. Currently, most flight information is delivered between aircraft and air traffic controllers via voice communications. With NextGen, much of this information will be transmitted digitally to increase efficiency and decrease the opportunities for error. This will involve upgrading the air traffic control telecommunication systems, laying more fiber and provisioning more satellite bandwidth.

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Today, aircraft must fly from one radio-beacon, or VOR, to another. This is typically not the most direct route, and results in a sort of zig-zag flight path. With NextGen, navigation will be performance-based, thereby improving how precisely an aircraft navigates to its final destination, minimizing course deviation.

Airspace redesign

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The FAA is implementing a four phase plan to redesign the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia airspace, which should be completed by 2012. These changes should reduce delays, improve travel times, and service reliability.

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NextGen is an important component of the FAA's plan to redesign the region's airspace and modernize the Air Traffic Control (ATC) system. We must invest in this technology because we need more capacity to meet the current and projected demand for air travel. Physically expanding the airports will likely be part of the solution, but these technologies will help us get more capacity out of our existing facilities and reduce delays.