FAA on TARGETS to speed aircraft departures

The Federal Aviation Administration is using a new software program to improve airport departure procedures and reduce aviation fuel consumption.

The Terminal Area Route Generation Evaluation and Traffic Simulation (TARGETS) tool decreases the time needed to publish Area Navigation (RNAV) procedures. These procedures ' including headings, turns, altitudes and speeds ' are programmed into an aircraft's avionics system, reducing controller/pilot communications and increasing fuel efficiency. The software increases the number of departure routes by allowing air traffic controllers to disperse aircraft more efficiently, which reduces taxi time, ground delays and miles flown.

'Just a few years ago, designing the 50 RNAV procedures the FAA plans to publish this year would have been a tedious task involving compasses, drafting boards and multiple erasers,' the agency said in a news release. 'TARGETS can save weeks during the design stage of developing new RNAV procedures.'

With TARGETS, the process now takes minutes instead of months. Changes can be made instantly, and users can quickly run a low-fidelity simulation to make sure planes will be able to fly the programmed routes, avoiding numerous revisions and decreasing the amount of time it takes to create routes, the FAA said.

TARGETS tests routes based on the capabilities of generic small, medium and large jets and, if needed, specific aircraft. For example, a user could enter the specifics of a Boeing 757 to see if it could fly the route. The software also allows users to attach speeds to navigational points, or fixes. If this is done, a plane will automatically slow to a certain speed as it crosses a fix, making its movements easier for controllers to predict.

FAA also announced that that its new Traffic Flow Management System is operational at the William J. Hughes Technical Center, in Atlantic City, N.J. The system tracks, anticipates and manages the flow of air traffic through U.S. airspace, integrating real-time weather and flight data from multiple sources. The system uses a new open-architecture platform with greater bandwidth, improved integration with other domains, and better performance and capacity.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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