Denver’s NextGen Implementation Shows the Real Values of this Technology

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ARTICLE: Denver International Airport starts new arrival-departures for NextGen

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Denver International Airport is the nation’s most recently constructed major facility; so it is indeed appropriate that it should be among the leaders in implementing the technology of NextGen. This enhancement of the navigational system at DIA simplifies the arrival and departure profiles. Whereas in the past, the crew would receive messages from the controllers to follow “steps” in altitudes (up and down), NextGen technology now guides the flights on a constant line which allows the pilots to maintain the thrust levels relatively constant in climb and descend modes.

What are the practical consequences of this change? The reporter notes that the “FAA predicts that NextGen improvements will reduce flight delays by 38 percent and lead to a 1.4-billion-gallon total reduction of fuel burn by 2020. “ To make it work, the aircraft have to be re-equipped to include more accurate navigational instruments and at DIA that means that United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Delta Air Lines, ExpressJet, SkyWest Airlines and US Airways will have to include the GPS equipment to maximize the value of this NextGen advance.

There is considerable debate among the users as to whether the cost of such upgrades is worth it. The article notes the concerns raised by the Government Accountability Office. The FAA is aware of these worries and has created a site to try to respond.

NextGen is such an amorphous, macro concept that stories like this in the Denver Post demonstrate on a micro, practical basis the real value. The press should write more of this explanation of the benefits.

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