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Houston is Key Player in Move to
“Next Generation” Technology

May 1, 2012

© Houston Airport System
The FAA initiative in Houston represents an investment of $4.8 million dollars.
The City of Houston is now on a fast track to receive new-age air traffic control equipment, thanks to a multi-million dollar investment from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The FAA is launching a $4.8 million project called the “Houston Metroplex Airspace Initiative,” which is designed to guide pilots through a more direct approach route, significantly reducing carbon emissions and increasing on-time performance.

As opposed to employing a step-by-step descent pattern, pilots landing at both commercial airports in Houston will soon be directed through a much smoother process, reducing fuel consumption and noise pollution.

“Houston was at the forefront of this technology during the testing phase,” says Perry Miller, acting general manager at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. “So it’s only appropriate that we would play a key role when the technology is employed on a permanent basis.”

The new measures in Houston are expected to remove 31,000 metric tons of carbon emissions every year from area skies, the equivalent of the output from about 6,000 cars.

The reduction in fuel burn is also expected to save airlines more than $9 million per year.

“It’s burning a lot less fuel, saving a lot of money and reducing its emissions,” deputy FAA administrator Michael Huerta said while visiting Houston. “And it’s also reducing noise because the descent and glide idle is much quieter.”

The technologies associated with the Houston program are part of the FAA’s “Next Generation Air Transportation System,” which it calls NextGen. NextGen relies on satellites for tracking and navigational data, rather than the traditional ground-based equipment.

Preparatory work on the Houston project is approximately 50 percent complete, with final work expected to wrap up by December 2013.

Representatives from both United Airlines and Southwest Airlines have publicly voiced their support for the program because of its cost-savings potential. Project funding is coming out of the FAA’s operating budget.
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