NASA, FAA Partner To Upgrade Air Traffic Control

Published: Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - 6:58am
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Air traffic snarls and communication breakdowns can leave holiday flight plans up in the air. But NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration are working on a system they hope will break the logjam.

Flight control passes through many hands from gate to gate and from airport to airport. At each phase, outdated rules, old technologies and poor communications can gum up the works, causing long taxi and hold times, high fuel use and worse emissions.

But NASA and the FAA are currently developing systems that could change that by uniting arrival, departure and surface systems under one digital umbrella.

"NASA brings some sort of scheduling capability and tools and interfaces it to the existing systems, and on to the controller and flight crews in order for them to conform to those schedules," said NASA project manager Leighton Quon.

NASA projects a 40 percent reduction in departure delays at congested airports like Sky Harbor, where tower controllers already use FAA prototype software to track flights.

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