The FAA says it wants to speed up the deployment of avionics that can take advantage of ADS-B technology, and is funding a small demonstration project meant to prove the value of having that data in the cockpit. (FAA Press release) The $9 million effort will be conducted by Honeywell and ACSS, and calls for two planes to be outfitted with a full suite of NextGen gadgetry. Other partners on the project: US Airways (which will work with ACSS), plus Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways (which will provide pilots).
A sidenote: ACSS is a joint venture of aerospace IT heavyweights L3 Communications and Thales Group.
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FAA Acting Deputy Administrator Ruth Leverenz spoke to the International Aviation Womens’ Association on Friday, and portrayed NextGen as the next frontier in a long line of historical breakthroughs. (Transcript here.) Also, she specifically highlighted Alaska Airilnes’ participation in an RNP program at Palm Springs International.
We are focusing deployment of RNAV and Required Navigation Performance, RNP, around our most congested airports. One of our earliest adopters is Alaska Airlines. With RNP approach procedures at Palm Springs on the West Coasts, Alaska Airlines reported that 10 percent of their flights were classified as “saves” in the first quarter of this year. Those are flights that would have been otherwise diverted to alternate airports because of bad weather. A “save” translates directly to savings for the carrier — emissions, time, passenger convenience.
Partnerships with operators equipped to perform these procedures are yielding the biggest benefits from increases in operational efficiency and reductions in fuel use and emissions. We are also seeing benefits today from the introduction of Optimized Profile Descents that have shown fuel savings averaging about 50 to 60 gallons of fuel for the arrival portion of flights. It reduces as much as 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide per arrival.