NextGen proposes to transform America’s air traffic control system from a radar-based system with radio communication to a satellite-based one. GPS technology will be used to shorten routes, save time and fuel, reduce traffic delays, increase capacity, and permit controllers to monitor and manage aircraft with greater safety margins. Radio communications will be increasingly replaced by data exchange and automation will reduce the amount of information the air crew must process at one time.
As a result of these changes, pilots will have more information in their cockpit which will allow aircraft to fly closer together, take more direct routes and avoid delays caused by airport “stacking” as aircraft wait for an open runway. To implement this, the FAA will undertake a wide-ranging transformation of the entire United States air transportation system. This evolution has the aim of reducing gridlock, both in the sky and at the airports. In 2003, the U.S. Congress established the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) to plan and coordinate the development of the system.
If this problem is not addressed, the FAA estimates that increasing congestion in the air transportation system of the United States would cost the American economy $22 billion annually in lost economic activity by 2022. It also estimates that by 2018, NextGen will reduce aviation fuel consumption by 1.4 billion gallons, reduce emissions by 14 million tons and save $23 billion in costs. Each mile in the air costs an airline about $0.10-$0.15 per seat in operating expenses like flight crew and fuel. Flying directly from one airport to the next and reducing congestion around airports can reduce the time and miles spent in the air for the same trip.
In summary, NextGen is a comprehensive suite of state-of-the-art technologies and procedures that, in short, enable aircraft to move more directly from Point A to Point B. This helps passengers reach their destinations on time while reducing fuel burn and lessening the impact on the environment.
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