1. Computing
Fred Zahradnik

GPS is Shaping the Future of Flight

By July 25, 2010

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NextGen-GPS-Air-Traffic-ControlOur nation's current air traffic control system relies on radar, and centralized voice communication that dates back to the 1950s. The system requires planes to fly inefficient, indirect routes, and controlled "stair step" ascents and descents that burn more fuel than smooth and continuous altitude changes - just two examples of the system's deficiencies. All that is changing, albeit slowly, with implementation of the NextGen Air Transportation System by the Federal Aviation Administration, industry contractors, and airlines. NextGen relies on GPS location technology to keep pilots and ground controllers aware of airplane positions on the ground and in the air. Benefits (between now and year 2018) will include a projected 21 percent fewer delays, 1.4 billion gallons of fuel saved, and a 14 million ton reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Safety benefits include better pilot awareness of other aircraft (on the ground and in the air) and much more accurate displays for air traffic controllers. Some elements of NextGen are in use or in testing now, with completion set for 2025. Image FAA

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