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NASA completes Flight Tests of Air Traffic Tool

Published on 17/03/2017 10:00 - By

Passengers may soon be spending less time hanging around in airport arrival and departure gates. This after NASA recently completed airborne tests of a flight deck tool that’s likely to make more commercial aircraft arrive on time.

The software and hardware prototype, known as Flight Deck Interval Management (FIM), automatically provides pilots with extremely precise spacing information on approach into a busy airport, enabling more planes to land safely within any given time. The technology is intended to help airplanes spend less time in the air, save money on fuel, and reduce engine emissions.

In order to fully test the new cockpit-based air traffic management tool, pilots took to the air over Washington State, USA, aboard a Boeing 757 and a Dassault Falcon business jet from Honeywell, and a Boeing 737 from United Airlines.  The trio of aircraft flew enough air miles to circle the planet four times during 18 days of tests spread over a month, with the last flight completed on February 22nd.

Early analysis indicates the tool worked as expected in a successful flight test campaign. Nasa will now transfer FIM to the FAA for further testing. 

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