NASA developed technology aims to save commercial airlines fuel and time

NASA’s latest technology for commercial airlines could save them fuel and time. The space administration’s software is called the Traffic Aware Planner. This software helps to reduce fuel consumption, carbon emissions and cut travel times in commercial airlines.

This latest technology is loaded on a tablet and will not require any major change to the already established aviation roles of pilots and ground crew, so the technology can be implemented right away. The app works by reading the planes current position in combination with its flight path and then looks for an alternate route that can save both time and money.

The application connects directly to the airplane’s info hub scanning the flight route, current position, altitude and other real-time information. TAP will then recommend alternative routes or altitude changes that would save fuel or flight time. Those suggestions are displayed directly to the flight crew.

TAP can also scan for potential conflicts with the flight path change, so air traffic controllers can more easily approve a route change request. The system will also keep an eye on real time weather conditions, wind forecast updates and restricted airspace status.

The software is loaded onto a tablet computer, which many airline pilots already use for charts and flight calculations. Even a few minutes of flight time saved of a trip made by an airline could result in massive fuel and time savings, according to researchers.

“We’re excited to partner with NASA to test this new technology that has the potential to help reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions and save our guests time in the air.” said Virgin America Chief Operating Officer Steve Forte in Burlingame, California.

“Up until now there has been no way to deliver comprehensive wind and congestion data to pilots in near-real time,” said Tom Kemp, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of operations in Seattle, Washington. “TASAR is a ‘super app’ that will give our pilots better visibility to what’s happening now versus three hours earlier when the flight plan was prepared.”

Developers say the new technology won’t require changes to the roles and responsibilities of pilots or air traffic controllers, which would allow the system to be implemented fast and start producing benefits right away.”The system is meant to help pilots make better route requests that air traffic controllers can more often approve,” said Wing. “This should help pilots and controllers work more effectively together and reduce workload on both sides from un-approvable requests.

TASAR takes advantage of NASA’s state of the art TAP software, flight information directly from the aircraft and the emerging ADS-B and Internet infrastructure to help pilots get approved to fly the most efficient or time-saving trajectory possible.

NASA researchers expect this and other aviation technologies under development will help revolutionize the national airspace system, reducing delays and environmental impacts and improving passenger comfort and efficiency, even as the demand for air travel continues to grow.

TAP set to be used by Virgin America and Alaska Airlines over the next three years.



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