Florida NextGen satellite-based airspace initiative launched to provide quicker, safer and greener flying
Fri 12 Oct 2012 – A collaborative initiative involving the aviation industry and the FAA is underway to improve air traffic flows and cut travel times, aircraft emissions and noise on flights in the Miami, Orlando and Tampa metropolitan areas. The Metroplex initiative is based on Performance-Based Navigation (PBN), a key component of the FAA’s NextGen air traffic modernisation programme, which enables pilots to fly using satellite coverage. A metroplex is a region with several airports serving major areas where heavy airport activity and environmental constraints combine to hinder the efficient movement of traffic. The FAA estimates that more direct routings and more efficient descents into the Florida Metroplex will save eight million gallons of fuel annually, which equates to a reduction in carbon emissions of nearly 80,000 tonnes.
Other partners in the initiative include the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, JetBlue Airways, American Airlines, US Airways, NetJets and other stakeholder aviation interests, with six airports involved in the study area.
PBN allows shorter, more direct routes that reduce flight time and fuel consumption, and therefore fewer carbon emissions. Work teams will explore and develop a range of strategies to streamline airspace to help reduce complexity for air traffic controllers and flight crews. These include creating separate flight tracks for departures and arrivals to allow aircraft to climb and descend more efficiently, shortening flight tracks by making them more direct, and expanding the development of Optimized Profile Descent (OPD) procedures into the airports. OPDs allow pilots to almost idle the engines while the aircraft descends, using the onboard Flight Management System to fly a continuous, descending path without levelling off.
The FAA estimates that 5.4 million fewer nautical miles will be flown in and out of Florida as a result of the procedures and save airlines around $23 million in fuel costs.
Announcing the initiative with the FAA’s Acting Administrator Michael Huerta at JetBlue University, the carrier’s Orlando training centre, JetBlue Airways CEO Dave Barger said: “These new procedures will increase traffic flow predictability while reducing our environmental impact, allowing us to provide more efficient travel for customers.”
Metroplex initiatives are underway or planned in a number of metropolitan areas across the United States and will help airlines improve on-time performance and reduce emissions generated by aircraft, says the FAA.