Make a Legal U-Turn and Return to the Airfield

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Air traffic controllers in some parts of Florida, Atlanta, Southern California, and Washington, D.C. will soon be able to take advantage of NextGen’s new technology to allow towers to track airplanes through GPS, instead of using radar. The state is phasing in use of the new technology over the next three to five years that will allow more Florida airports to become more efficient and precise in tracking the flights going to and from the airports.


How it works

Radar systems have been around for decades, but are now becoming obsolete in the air traffic control field. There is a six second delay in monitoring what flights are doing, and that six seconds can make a big difference when you are dealing with tons of metal flying at high rates of speed. The new GPS technology from NextGen will allow air traffic controllers real time access to see what flights are doing and where they are heading. While flying is already very safe, the precision of the GPS tracking of flights will make it even more so, in addition to allowing for savings of fuel costs and preventing delays.


What price convenience?

The implementation of the system will not be cheap, but the initial outlay of funding should be paid back in fewer delays and savings on fuel. The pending “fiscal cliff” budget cuts have the potential to delay this project, as it would cut funding. However, in Florida alone, the NextGen technology can result in savings of over $20 million each year in fuel costs, not to mention reducing the amount of fuel needed by airlines. The system is being tested in smaller markets before being tried out in places like New York.


Frequent flier convenience

While this system is obviously a boost to airports and airlines, fliers will also benefit. With the new efficient GPS technology, fliers will experience fewer delays and potentially lower airfares as less fuel will be used per flight. With the tourist industry being so important to Florida, it makes a lot of sense that they are eager to save tourists time and money at the airports. The less time a tourist spends on a plane in a holding pattern or delayed in another major city, the more time that tourist will have to enjoy the benefits Florida has to offer to its tourists. That news is good for fliers, airlines, and the economy.

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Edmond Donaldson

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