Wednesday, April 04, 2012

FAA has a plan to change air travel

By Tom Abrahams

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- An effort is in the works to make air travel more efficient, and to reduce aircraft emissions. It's a plan the FAA calls Metroplex.

Some top federal aviation officials are in Houston to talk about what they call NextGen -- the next generation of air traffic control and the way aircraft travel over the United States.

One thing they say is going to happen in this decades-long plan is ultimately a reduction in emissions by aircraft, since they will fly fewer miles. They also say more aircraft will be on time once this is all implemented.

It's a multi-year process. Houston is one of 21 cities currently undergoing the NextGen transformation. Officials say as a result of this and the way they change the airspace in and out of Houston, planes will fly roughly 650,000 fewer miles getting in and out of our area. Additionally, they will save three million gallons of fuel, which is the equivalent of 6,000 cars burning that fuel on the streets of Houston.

Houston will be fast-tracked, going through the process in two years rather than three.

"What we have here in Houston is a combination of airports that are located in close proximity, a hub operation -- so it has very significant benefits to the whole national airspace system," explained acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "If we focus on what we can do to streamline procedures and to modernize the airspace that we have."

Essentially what they'll be doing is changing the way planes fly in and out of Houston, making it more direct for these flights. They'll also change the way flights descend, in a more fuel-efficient manner, which will also make it quieter for those neighborhoods which planes fly over near the runways.

Overall, the plan will cost a little less than $5 million. It's all paid for through FAA operating expenditures. In Houston they tell us it will be fully operational by the end of 2013. 


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