A key part of the strategy to create a more efficient global air traffic management (ATM) system is to take better advantage of technology that is readily available and already on board most aircraft.
“Boeing airplanes have been equipped with highly capable flight management systems for a long time,” said Sheila Conway, senior engineer in Avionics, Air Traffic Management.
“Part of our job is to demonstrate to the airlines, the industry and air traffic controllers how we can leverage the advanced capabilities and functions already available on the flight deck.” Conway said it’s also important to show how airborne components, such as airplane flight management systems and ground-based air traffic control systems, can work together to optimize flight operations and improve aviation environmental performance.
Conway is principal investigator for “Greener Skies Initiative 2,” a research project funded by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to expand the use of flight deck and air traffic control capabilities across the country. Launched in 2011, Greener Skies will evaluate precision navigation procedures that can improve air traffic management efficiency.
The advanced navigation procedures are supported by new, GPS-based technology that allows airplanes to follow precise approaches while landing at busy airports where the runways are very close together. The result is more efficient departures and landings that use less fuel and reduce emissions and noise.
“This technology is a good example of what is already available on the flight deck to improve air traffic management,” Conway said.
The procedures will be tested through 2013 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for future implementation at capacity-constrained airports across the United States.
Conway said ongoing ATM advances will have a significant impact on global aviation. “This is a real opportunity to help the environment and to benefit aircraft operators. It’s not ‘pie in the sky’; it’s real and can start making a difference in the very near future,” she said.