FAA deploying technology to reduce airline taxi times

The FAA is poised to begin the rollout of a software system that will be used to reduce airline taxi times and delays while making the national airspace system more efficient. 

The Advanced Technology Demonstration 2 (ATD-2) system is a predictive software solution that integrates ongoing flight arrivals at airports with airline departure plans and the real-time situation in the skies. It enables aircraft to depart the gate later and then move directly from the tarmac to the runway for takeoff without long wait times, thereby saving fuel. 

In addition, the system’s predictive abilities reduce system delays by allowing for more efficient absorption of departing flights into the overhead aircraft stream, explained Shawn Engelland, ATD project manager for NASA.

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Though ATD-2 will be deployed by the FAA, it was developed by NASA initially to facilitate spacecraft launches. 

The FAA plans to roll out the system gradually at 27 large U.S. airports over the next 10 years. Successful trials have already been undertaken at Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth and Dallas Love Field airports. Next up will be Phoenix, with deployment in the early part of next year. 

“This technology cuts delays by all kinds of hours and the aircraft engines run all kinds of fewer hours, NASA administrator Bill Nelson said during a teleconference on Sept. 28. “What does that mean? That means less maintenance and fewer engines. This is obviously good for the environment. It’s good for our economy. It’s good for customers.”

During testing in Charlotte, a reduction in taxi times saved about 275,000 gallons of fuel per year, which is the equivalent of the fuel burn of 185 flights between New York and Chicago for a Boeing 737. The system also reduced delays by 916 hours per year, which the FAA compared to shaving 15 minutes of waiting on a taxiway for more than 3,600 departing flights. 

Greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by eight tons daily. 

ATD-2 is part of the long-delayed NextGen air transportation system modernization that the FAA has been undertaking since 2007.

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