The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Nasa have opened a new airspace technology demonstration (ATD-2) laboratory at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina.

During a five-year test project, the laboratory will help streamline the arrival and departure of aeroplanes and enhance surface operations to increase safety and efficiency, as well as reduce fuel consumption in the nation’s aviation system.

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said: "As a son of this city and this state with its special history with modern flight, I’m thrilled that Charlotte Douglas International Airport is at the forefront of this innovative partnership between DOT and Nasa that will have a transformative and lasting impact on aviation."

The ATD-2 project is part of the Obama Administration’s NextGen initiative, which will provide coordinated schedules between the tower, terminal ramp and centre control facilities, as well as help air traffic managers to reduce congestion.

The project will also ensure that the future aviation system is able to handle more than four billion additional passengers estimated to be travelling worldwide over the next 20 years.

Nasa administrator Charles Bolden said: "Imagine being able to spend less time pushing back from the gate, taxiing to the runway and taking off.

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"The work that will be accomplished in this demonstration lab could be a game changer in terms of reducing airport congestion, which is good for passengers and for business.

"It’s also good for the environment, as engines spend less time running on the ground."

"The work that will be accomplished in this demonstration lab could be a game changer in terms of reducing airport congestion."

Over the coming 25 years, Nasa’s green aviation initiatives aim to save about $255bn of the commercial airline industry.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport deputy aviation director Jack Christine said: "This programme will deliver operational and environmental benefits, as well as improve the passenger experience at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

"We look forward to working with all of our partners to make this demonstration a reality."

The airport, which handles about 45 million annual passengers, will demonstrate how the ATD-2 system can help balance air traffic at smaller and larger airports with intersecting air traffic routes.

Image: The ATD-2 laboratory at Charlotte Douglas International will help handle congestion at the airport. Photo: courtesy of MaverickHunter40245 / Wikipedia.