These challenges to the US airline industry are highly visible and much discussed; however, there are two other major issues that threaten the future of the industry. The first issue concerns the aviation infrastructure, specifically the air traffic control system. In the US, the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS), commonly referred to as NextGen, is the air transportation solution for the twenty-first century. NextGen is roughly equivalent to the European SESAR programme (Single European Sky ATM Research). NextGen is currently behind schedule, over budget, and a major source of contention between various political and industry groups. The second issue concerns the Federal Aviation Administration which regulates the industry, including overseeing NextGen implementation. The FAA budget has been held up in the US Congress over the change in funding it had proposed to help pay for NextGen technology and implementation. At the same time a series of reports on failures of FAA maintenance oversight have prompted

Congressional hearings into its ability to regulate the safety of the industry itself (Oberstar, 2008).