The Transportation Secretary and the FAA Administrator announced the launch of a new air traffic control system at Bush Intercontinental.
The new system is part of the Federal Aviation Administration's Metroplex plan to increase air travel efficiency.
The new system uses a GPS to track planes as they fly allowing air traffic control to see the planes every millisecond that they fly. The benefits are wide ranging according to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, "It's going to allow us to fly more accurate routes, for planes to make the landings much more efficient, and to allow planes to fly closer together."
Currently, the radar systems used across the country to track airliners only pick up the planes once every few seconds. The delay is the main reason for the large area required between planes and also the "stair step" approach pattern.
Foxx says the new system that at Bush Intercontinental will allow the planes in the Houston airspace to fly closer together and do straight-line descents when landing. This will allow planes to land faster which will increase on-time performance and allow more planes to land in a given time frame.
The FAA expects environmental effects as well. The more efficient routes will reduce fuel usage and lower emissions.
Foxx says the new system is meant to help deal with the always increasing congestion in the skies, "The congestion in our airspace is growing and it's been limited by the fact that our tracking technology has been basically World War II radar systems."
The FAA's Metroplex plan will eventually be used at all major airports in the country.