Sunday, October 12, 2008

GPS can help airlines reduce both fuel cost & flight time

This news is definitely going to be an encouraging one for those who’re in love with GPS, and anything that’s connected with the technology. But for you who are not, then you might want to keep on reading. No, not because it would pleases me. Well, that’s at one point is true… ;-p but because you’ll then have a profound new view on our world’s aviation system really is.

According to
USA Today (found via Switched): There is currently a $35 billion plan, called as NextGen, that would replace the current radar system used by airlines with the kind of GPS technology that has become commonplace in cars and cellphones. Sounds pretty cool and economic, but as for me, I’d like to know how much exactly does this NextGen system could save cost? No need for too much details of numbers, that’ll only give me a headache.

Supporters behind the NextGen project say the new system would triple air traffic capacity, reduce delays by at least half, improve safety and curb greenhouse gas emissions. While according to Associated Press analysis of federal and industry data found that if the new system were already in place, airlines could have saved more than $5 billion in fuel this year alone. Sweet, sweet Lord! That’s a large number for me, and I bet for you too.

But wait a minute, before we jump further on how and when the project can be realized in reality; why all the hassles for pushing such expensive system to the o’goody system which our airlines already use today?

Apparently, the so called ‘high-tech’ that’s being used even until today by airlines all over the world, is actually came from a World War II-era traffic network! The airlines are still using the same radar technology that is more than 50 years old!! *gasp* It's "the equivalent of using an electric typewriter when others are using computers," said David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transportation Association. "It's a huge, huge drag on productivity."

Currently, jetliners move in single-file lines along narrow highways in the sky marked by radio beacons. Many of the routes gently zigzag from one beacon to the next, sometimes forcing cross-country flights to follow sweeping arcs and waste hundreds of gallons of fuel. *louder-gasp*

Enabling GPS-equipped planes to fly the shortest route between two points: a straight line. GPS is already used in many parts of the aviation world. Many European countries, China and even Mongolia have established some GPS networks or plan to do so soon. Some private and commercial aircraft already are equipped with GPS devices that pilots use to determine their position, but the NextGen system would dramatically expand use of the technology by creating a nationwide GPS network for air traffic.

Apart from making the whole aviation in better order to save flights time, the NextGen system could also offer airlines a 10% savings in fuel costs per year. If the network were in place today, it would essentially pay for itself in just seven years. So what’s the holdups?

Funding, it’s every countries & governments most feared word. The U.S. government does not expect to have it up and running until the early 2020s, and without a major commitment, supporters warn that even that goal might be not be attainable. And the funding is not the only problem, that the airlines have to face for adopting the NextGen system in near future.

Building the network involves gradually putting together the new system while still relying on radar for day-to-day operations. But most carriers — which are otherwise enthusiastic about NextGen — are reluctant to retrofit planes years, maybe decades, before the satellite network is fully operational.

"It's like you buying a new car and the dealer saying, 'How would you like to buy this nifty GPS technology — but it won't be available in your area for years,"' says David Castelveter.

’Nuff said. I got the whole point, and it’s saddening me by knowing the truth now… ;-p

[blogged with my Treo 750v]

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