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Airline could save $25 in fuel for every mile not flown

Huerta: NextGen will make the national airspace system safer, more efficient

The FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) will make the National Airspace System safer and more efficient as aircraft will be traveling fewer miles and burning less fuel, FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta said March 9.

“With NextGen our system will be safer and more efficient,” Huerta said at the twenty-third annual International Women in Aviation conference in Dallas. Aircraft will burn less fuel and emit fewer greenhouse gases. They will be able to fly more directly and receive more efficient routes and more direct approaches, he said.

At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, better flight paths will let airlines operating there fly about 1.2 million fewer miles per year, Huerta said. Combined with other measures such as fuel-saving descents, he said that translates to 2.9 million gallons per year in savings, or 30,000 fewer metric tons of carbon emissions released into the air.

“What happens in Atlanta really affects the entire system,” he said. “These are huge benefits.”

Huerta said Southwest Airlines estimates it will save about $25 in fuel for every mile that is not flown because of a shorter flight track. “We’re creating environmentally friendly optimized profile descents,” or OPDs, in which aircraft can make managed descents at reduced power. There are four OPDs in place at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The total savings there by two carriers is estimated at $6.4 million, he said.

Airspace modernization efforts have been launched in Houston, Atlanta, and Charlotte, and are under way in Washington, D.C., Huerta said. “We will soon start in California and improve the complex airspace around New York and Chicago,” he said.

At long last, the FAA has a new four-year budget plan that authorizes funds through fiscal year 2015, Huerta said. President Barack Obama’s proposed budget includes $1 billion for fiscal year 2013. “What these funds will do is help us expedite deployment,” he said.

Jill W. Tallman
Jill W. Tallman
AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who is part-owner of a Cessna 182Q.

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