To update the air transportation system in the United States and increase the overall efficiency of flights travelling through American airspace, the Federal Aviation Administration has invested in a massive modernisation programme called NextGen.
The programme, in which the United States plans to invest roughly $29 billion, is part of a root-and-branch revamp of the national airspace system. It is made up of many projects deployed throughout the country.
Working in close partnership, the US aviation industry and the FAA have identified four overarching priorities to focus on in the next three years through which they will achieve a higher level of efficiency and cut down on fuel burn.
The first of these, improved multiple runway operations, allows for more arrivals and departures, cutting down on wasteful time in the sky for aircraft as they wait for an opportunity to land.
The second priority is data communications. Currently, the communications system between pilots and controllers remains the same as it was in the mid-20th century, with audio channels being used to provide instructions by voice. While this has worked well for decades, far more information can be delivered quickly and accurately by messages transferred in text form and displayed in the cockpit.
The third priority is performance-based navigation, which defines more accurate and direct flight paths for pilots to follow by using satellite-based technology.
The fourth priority of the partnership is to improve surface operations by sharing more data with stakeholders and working to increase predictability and efficiency on the surface.
Each of these improvements is taking place in various forms and locations throughout the USA and continues to help reduce the level of CO2 emissions created by aircraft in US airspace.