FAA introduces time technology to NextGen test flights

WASHINGTON, 1 Sept. 2009. The element of "time" will be introduced in flight demonstrations by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Embry Riddle.

WASHINGTON, 1 Sept. 2009. The element of "time" will be introduced in flight demonstrations by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Embry Riddle.

Beginning in the fall, flight demonstrations of the new flight management system in 4D trajectory based operations will help determine how well aircraft avionics predict and execute the optimum trajectory of an aircraft while sharing the information with ground systems. Data collected from flight management systems will help us understand how well aircraft systems are able to compute the most efficient path between Point A and Point B and their ability to comply with time constraints.

The systems that manage flights today employ three dimensions: altitude, latitude, and longitude. A fourth dimension – time – will be introduced in demonstrations beginning later this year under a new agreement reached between FAA and Embry Riddle's aviation consortium, FAA officials say.

The new technology, called 4D trajectory based operations, will optimize an aircraft's flight path through its entire flight – or trajectory – by adding the element of time. Time, in this case, means the ability of an aircraft to cross a specific navigation fix at a specific time. This type of precision – knowing an aircraft will be where it's supposed to be at a certain time – will improve efficiency and capacity in the nation's skies. It also gets to the heart of the Next Generation Air Transportation System: moving aircraft from Point A to Point B with greater efficiency, saving time, money, and fuel, FAA officials say.

The time technology is expected to be used on flights in medium-density markets such as Orlando. These 4D trajectory based operations will help us determine the impact on traffic capacity and efficiency of operations.

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