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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Lockheed CEO points a way forward on global problems

The FAA’s NextGen program, which will revamp the U.S. air traffic control system, is near and dear to Marillyn Hewson’s heart.

Her company, Lockheed Martin Corp., is building a foundational element of NextGen with the En Route Automation Modernization contract, or ERAM, which manages flights over 10,000 feet. It’s been worth about $1.9 billion to Lockheed since 2004.

So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Hewson, Lockheed’s CEO, would urge support for NextGen; it’s a huge business opportunity for the company. And it is also important to note that the program is threatened by budget cuts and sometimes lukewarm support from others in the aviation industry.

In what were likely her first comments on the NextGen program since becoming CEO on Jan. 1, Hewson emphasized three goals when speaking to the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics, a civil aviation group that develops aviation standards and guidance:

  • Making the business case for investment
  • Delivering on the promise of new technology
  • Adapting to whatever change may come

The key to meeting these goals is collaboration and partnering among NextGen stakeholders: industry, government, the acquisition community, air traffic controllers, and technical experts.

The business case for NextGen needs to emphasize the importance of air travel to the broader U.S. and global economy – not just the aviation industry, Hewson said. That approach broadens the list of stakeholders considerably.

“This isn’t just an investment in air traffic management; it’s an investment in national and global commerce, in tourism, in business travel, and in the infrastructure that makes this country run,” she said.

Her argument for support also points a way forward during these troubled budget times that isn’t just about more business for her company. As I read her remarks, I couldn’t help but think her approach to NextGen could be applied across government, particularly the call for collaboration among a broad set of stakeholders.

There is a whole set of serious problems that the government and the nation face that could benefit from more collaboration and partnering.

Several years ago, I interviewed Mark Gerencser, an executive vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, who co-authored a book “Megacommunities” that explored the concept of tapping broad groups of stakeholders to tackle tough problems.

“These megaproblems can’t be solved by government alone, they can’t be solved by industry alone, and they can’t be solved by civil society alone. They have to be solved by working together,” he told me.

I could hear echoes of that sentiment in Hewson’s remarks.

Whether it is NextGen or cybersecurity or fixing the procurement system, or – gasp – passing a budget, this is clearly a onewhere there is a need for cooperation and partnership.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jun 06, 2013 at 9:52 AM

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