Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Federal Aviation Administration proposes NextGen improvements in Cleveland

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Federal Aviation Administration is looking to make improvements at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport that will make flying in and out of Cleveland faster and more efficient.  

Through its Metroplex initiative, the FAA will transition the airspace around Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Airport to satellite-based navigation from ground-based navigation. 

Air traffic controllers – and pilots - who before were limited to using ground-based navigation now will be able to rely on satellite navigation systems to move airplanes in and out of Cleveland. That means faster, more efficient routes and fewer clogged airways.

"For the city of Cleveland and for Cleveland Hopkins, our intent is to create an airspace that's more efficient," said Barry Cooper, FAA regional administrator of the Great Lakes Region.

The improvements are part of the FAA's nationwide efforts to convert the National Airspace System into a Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).

Cleveland is paired with Detroit as a Metroplex given the proximity of the two cities' airspace. The Cleveland-Detroit Metroplex will be the 12th area in the country to make the transition to satellite-based navigation in the country under the Metroplex program.

"As the FAA looks at its airspace and how traffic moves across the country, it is apparent to us - and has been for a long time – that as our major metropolitan areas go, so goes the state of the system," Cooper said. "If major metropolitan areas get choked in terms of air movement and air traffic, the system from coast to coast can get choked by that."

The FAA estimates that NextGen improvements will bring the industry $147.4 billion in benefits – through fuel savings, reduction in crew and maintenance costs and reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, among others – by 2030. 

The FAA projects the cost for NextGen projects through 2030 to be $29 billion, of which aircraft operators will be responsible for $15 billion.

In the Cleveland-Detroit Metroplex, preliminary studies project $9.7 million in annual fuel savings. Aircraft are expected to use 3.4 million fewer gallons of fuel per year and reduce carbon emissions by 28.9 thousand metric tons annually.

That's because under the new satellite-based navigation system, the FAA will be able to more efficiently route planes.

For example, in Houston, where the transition to satellite-based navigation already has taken place, aircraft save about 650,000 air miles annually, Cooper said.

Making the transition is a lengthy process, and isn't expected to be complete until mid-2018, Cooper said.

Even once the transition is finished, passengers are likely to see differences in flying in and out of Cleveland and surrounding areas. Most planes will fly in the same flight corridors as they do now.

The main difference, Cooper said, will be in on-time arrivals.

"We're increasing our ability to deliver aircraft on time," he said.

Most planes already are equipped to handle satellite navigation, and those that aren't still will be able to fly into the airport by manual routing instead of the more automatic routing possible in the NextGen system.

The transition will have little impact on the airports surrounding Cleveland, such as Akron-Canton Airport and Burke Lakefront Airport. 

Source: http://www.cleveland.com

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