By John McHaleWASHINGTON, 15 Feb. 2011.NextGen -- the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) Next Generation Air Transportation System -- takes a big step forward in the FAA's 2012 budget request with the agency asking for $1.24 billion, $372 million higher than 2010 enacted levels -- a more than 40 percent increase. Funding for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) technology is also nearly doubled in the 2012 request, increasing from $200 million in 2010 to $285 million. The total FAA 2012 budget request is $18.657 billion, an increase of $2.665 billion. Included in the Department of Transportation's (DOT's) overall budget request in 2012 is an up-front $50 billion economic boost, of which $3.35 billion is requested for the FAA -- $3.1 billion for the Grants-in-Aid to Airports and $250 million for Facilities and Equipment. The boost is designed to spur job growth and allow states to initiate sound multiyear investments, according to the DOT.Facilities and Equipment will use the funding to advance NextGen. The funding will also be used to make the near-term improvements in the FAA's current air traffic control infrastructure. About $200 million will be used to accelerate applied research, advance development, and implement engineering solutions for NextGen technologies, applications, and procedures; while $50 million will be used to upgrade FAA capital infrastructure such as power systems and air traffic control centers and towers.Grants-in-aid to airports will use most of the up-front funding for runway construction and other airport improvements aimed at increasing overall system efficiency in the future. The funds will also be used to honor existing long-term funding commitments, runway safety area improvement projects, and for noise mitigation projects.More NextGen numbersNextGen capital line items under Engineering, Development, Test, and Evaluation include: data communications for NextGen, which is increasing from $7 million to $150 million in 2012; NextGen demonstrations and concepts, which is down to $284 million from $346 million in 2010; and NextGen System development, which increases from $66 million in 2010 to $109 million for 2012.Under the NextGen systems funding, the FAA will conduct system level engineering reviews of human factors, safety, environment, wake turbulence, future air traffic control (ATC) communications, and surveillance requirements.Under Facilities and Equipment NextGen data communications is increasing to $150 million from $47 million in 2010 -- this will accelerate the transition from the current voice-based communication system to a text-based data communication system, according to the FAA.The agency's also requesting $58 million for flexible terminals and airports, to develop technologies and decision support tools to improve operations in the terminal environment and ensure efficient separation management.NextGen Research, Engineering and Development (RE&D) funding is increasing $5 million from 2010 to $77 million and NextGen operations funding more than tripled from 2010 -- increasing from $7 million to $24 million. Under operations NextGen staffing doubled from $5 million to $10 million.Other FAA programsAir Traffic Control Facilities and Equipment programs getting funding increases include: En Route Automation, with a request for $191 million up from $172 million in 2010; System-wide Information Management (SWIM) increasing from $57 million in 2010 to $66 million in 2012; and Wide Area Augmentation System up $35 million to $126 million for 2012.Programs dropping in funding include: terminal digital radar, shrinking to $4 million from $10 million in 2010; Runway Status Lights, down $87 million to $30 million in 2012; improve weather systems with a request for $21 million, down from $41 million in 2010.For more information, the FAA's fiscal year 2012 budget request information can be found within the DOT's budget request online at http://www.dot.gov/budget/2012/fy2012budgethighlights.pdf.