Nobody is sure when a new, high-tech GPS-based air traffic control system called NextGen will become operational, but FAA officials says they're pushing as hard as they can to make it happen.

During testimony before a House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, FAA Acting Administrator Michael P. Huerta said, "NextGen is a public-private partnership that will enhance the countries aviation system, and lay the groundwork for the United States to continue to operate the safest aviation system in the world."

He told members of the panel the NextGen system "will help airlines to significantly cut total fuel consumption annually, reduce carbon emissions and deliver other important benefits…we're creating new and more direct routes that will relieve congestion and improve safety and efficiency."

He said, "We're seeing great progress in cities where NextGen is being phased in, including Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte, California North Texas and Washington D.C….The program has been delayed, but we've elevated and strengthened our NextGen organization, and we have created a new Program Management Organization specifically focused on implementing major technology programs, such as ERAM - which is our En Route Automation Modernization program. This will strengthen and improve the coordination among NextGen initiatives, ushering them from the drawing board to live operation. This new approach, as well as our improved working relationship with our unions, is already showing results."

Huerta also said, "This is truly an exciting time in aviation history. NextGen is fundamental to ensuring that we continue to operate the world's safest air transportation system for many years to come."

So far, the NextGen program is years behind schedule and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. There is no word from the FAA when the system will begin operations at Newark Liberty Airport.