The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began a collaborative effort with aviation partners to improve air traffic control efficiency in Northern California.
Partners for the project include the FAA, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and the airports in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Sacramento.
The initiative will help airlines improve on-time performance, and cut emissions generated by aircraft flying into and out of the airports in the region.
FAA administrator, Michael Huerta, said: "The Federal Aviation Administration and members of the aviation industry are teaming up to create satellite-based arrival and departure routes that will make some of the most complex airspace in the country some of the most efficient."
"Implementing these NextGen procedures will result in more direct flight routes, fewer delays and an even safer, greener flying experience," Huerta said.
Under the FAA’s NextGen modernisation programme, the Metroplex initiative will enhance the air traffic flow into and out of the major airports in Northern California by creating an efficient airspace.
The Metroplex initiative is based on satellite navigation or Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) and is in progress or planned in 21 metropolitan areas across the country.
PBN will facilitate the pilots to fly aircraft with radar or satellite coverage, or with the on-board flight management system and allows shorter, more direct routes reducing flight time and fuel consumption, and generating less carbon emissions.
Implementation of the system will result in about 1.5 million fewer nautical miles into and out of Northern California per year resulting 2.3 million gal of fuel saved and 23,000t reduction in carbon emissions.
San Francisco International Airport director, John Martin, said: "With more efficient routing, congestion at airports is relieved, airlines run more efficiently and burn less fuel, and passengers can look forward to more options when they travel."
Under the project, the team will create Optimised Profile Descent (OPD) methods into San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Sacramento airports.
The initiative will allow the planes to use less fuel by descending directly to the runway, instead of the current system of coming down in stages, resulting in reduced congestion.
Implementation of satellite-based departure procedures at the airports will provide predictable, repeatable paths and optimise aircraft ascents, thus reducing the need to level off.
It will reduce the flight tracks by making them more direct and will offer a new, high-altitude route, which controllers can use when bad weather reduces the airport’s arrival rate.
Image: NextGen initiative will allow the planes to use less fuel by descending directly to the runway, instead of the current system of coming down in stages. Photo: FAA