Congress approves shift to GPS air traffic control

Airplane arrivals at major airports could get a huge technological boost thanks to a bill passed by Congress, the Associated Press reports.

By a vote of 75-20, the Senate on Feb. 6 passed a long-term funding bill for the Federal Aviation Administration that would authorize about $11 billion to modernize the nation's air traffic system. Part of that money would go toward upgrading arrival procedures at 35 of the nation's busiest airports, moving from decades-old radar systems to Global Positioning System navigation.

According to the AP, the new navigation systems will allow for more frequent takeoffs and landings because pilots will be able to bring planes in more quickly instead of using the more complicated stair-step descents that were required for radar-assisted landings. Thanks to GPS, they will have a more accurate picture of other aircraft in the sky and obstacles on the ground.

The bill, which passed the House last week and now awaits President Barack Obama's signature, would require the FAA to come up with the new GPS arrival procedures by June 2015.

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