The United States is currently in the process of undertaking the largest transformation of air traffic control ever attempted. Known as the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen, it is a multi-billion dollar technology effort to make air travel safer, more flexible and more efficient.
NASA is one of several U.S. government agencies that play a crucial role in helping to plan, develop and implement NextGen. Some of the planned improvements include new landing techniques that save fuel and time, computer models that predict more accurately the influence of weather on flight paths, and air traffic control solutions that allow more takeoffs and landings in the same amount of time.
How will this affect individual consumers? According to Leighton Quon, project manager of NextGen Systems Analysis, Integration and Evaluation at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, “it will allow more planes in the sky, which allows more air travel options. Route efficiency will also improve, getting consumers to destinations quicker, and with fewer emissions. It will also reduce noise for people living near airports.”
They also have a very interesting video simulating a day’s air travel over the United States, complete with major air hubs. Did you know that during peak travel times there can be more than 5,000 aircraft over America at once?
To see more questions answered by Leighton Quon, and the rest of this story on NASA’s website, click here.
Also check out this United States air traffic video and see how storms, time of day and location affect air travel for millions of people in real-time simulation. The video also shows how aircraft controllers were able to ground all aircraft in the United States within 3 hours on September 11, 2001.
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