NASA software aims to help ease airline flight delays

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by René Marsh / CNN

khou.com

Posted on September 3, 2013 at 12:56 PM

NEW YORK -- Once passengers are on board the plane, it doesn’t usually take off right away and there’s some waiting involved.

This system is all about taking those extra few minutes of delays out of air travel, so when the plane gets the green light to leave the gate, it doesn’t get stuck in a traffic jam.

Sitting on the runway, a frustration for flyers ready for take off but instead they wait for sometimes what seems like hours

Now NASA has developed software to help controllers make delays go away.

It takes perfect coordination for air traffic controllers to get them in the right place at the right time to avoid passenger delays.

NASA’s software will make the choreography smoother.

“It’s going to reduce your delays in bad weather maybe 10 or 15 minutes, and in not so bad weather you are going to feel less delay on the ground and a little bit less delay in the air,” said Tom Davis, Chief, Aviation Systems Division, NASA Ames Research Ctr.

NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley created the new technology called precision departure release capability.

Think of it as a car merging onto a highway, knowing you’ve got to go down the road and through a traffic light, NASA’s software would tell you exactly when to back out of your garage. So you end up right where you want to be.

That precision in the control tower means shorter lines of planes waiting to take off

A test at Dallas Fort Worth Airport last year showed a dramatic improvement.

“The aircraft were able to merge into on route streams and hit their targeted slot in the over head streams about 80 percent of the time, which is up quite a bit from today’s capability where they are able to hit it only about half the time,” said Davis.

NASA’s five million dollar program is estimated to save 20 million dollars a year, mostly in fuel costs. It’ll cut pollution and help get you to where you’re going on time.

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