Washington airspace to get NextGen upgrade

23 November 2014 (Last Updated November 23rd, 2014 18:30)

Washington, DC Metroplex will become the first in the US to get three satellite-based highways in the sky running side by side during the holiday travel season, according to an announcement by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

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Washington, DC Metroplex will become the first in the US to get three satellite-based highways in the sky running side by side during the holiday travel season, according to an announcement by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Each of the highways will be dedicated to one of the three major airports in the region, targeting heavy traffic flow during the holiday season.

The three airports to make use of the technology are Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

It has been predicted that airlines will burn at least 2.5 million fewer gallons of fuel each year in the skies above Washington while burning around 25,000 fewer metric tonnes of carbon dioxide. This is equal to annual greenhouse gas emissions from 5,263 passenger vehicles or 8,961t of waste taken to landfills.

"The national capital region is reaping the benefits of NextGen and this announcement further highlights how the federal government is making a difference."

US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx said: "The national capital region is reaping the benefits of NextGen and this announcement further highlights how the federal government is making a difference.

"These new and improved highways in the sky mean increased safety, more on time arrivals and departures, reduced fuel consumption, and reduced pollution-causing emissions."

With the help of the three parallel optimised profile descents aircrafts will be able to descend from cruising altitude to the runway in a smooth, continuous arc instead of the traditional staircase descent which will help in saving time as well as reduce fuel and carbon dioxide emissions.

The DC Metroplex initiative, which is a collaborative effort between American, Southwest, United and labour unions, will also help in the enhancement of safety and efficiency of flights serving Richmond International Airport, Andrews Joint Base Airport and nine smaller airports.

The US Department of Defense will also release unused military airspace to the FAA from Wednesday, which will allow FAA to make use of routes that are otherwise unavailable to help relieve traffic congestion on the East Coast and throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Southwest.


Image: The Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is one of the three airports to get three, state-of-the-art, satellite-based highways, NextGen. Photo: courtesy of © 2009 James G. Howes.