[Avionics Today 11-20-2014] The FAA announced the implementation of its second completed metroplex program this week, the North Texas NextGen Metroplex project. According to the agency, the newly completed project will save aircraft flying in the North Texas airspace an estimated 4.1 million gallons of fuel per year and significantly reduce carbon emissions as well.
“We flipped the switch on 80 new NextGen procedures here in North Texas,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said during a news conference in Dallas announcing the completion of the project. North Texas is one of 13 Metroplexes — a system of airports with shared airspace serving one or more major cities — where the FAA is working with the aviation industry and Air Traffic Controllers to implement new procedures that take advantage of modern aircraft advanced Flight Management Systems (FMS) and GPS systems.
Comparatively, the Houston Metroplex project implemented a total of 50 new airspace procedures designed to produce similar fuel saving and flight efficiency results at David Wayne Hooks Memorial (DWH), William P. Hobby (HOU), George Bush Intercontinental (IAH), and Sugar Land Regional (SGR) airports. Among the new procedures that were implemented in Houston are 20 Area Navigation (RNAV) Standard Terminal Arrivals, 20 RNAV Standard Instrument Departures (SID), six conventional STARs and 6 modified Instrument Landing System (ILS) transitions.
Under the North Texas Metroplex airspace redesign project, the FAA created Optimized Profile Descent (OPD) procedures at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport and Dallas Love Field (DAL). These procedures allow aircraft to descend at a constant optimized rate, rather than the legacy stair step landing approach that is most commonly used throughout the National Airspace System (NAS) today.
“Every flight that comes into D/FW as a result of the programs we’re talking about today will see a reduction of 300 to 500 pounds of fuel per flight, reducing our carbon emissions,” Robert Isom, chief operating officer at American Airlines said during the news conference announcing the recently completed project.
The three-year $6 million project was completed on Sept. 18. With 60 days accounted for, Isom said his airline is already starting to see the benefits of the new routes and procedures.
The FAA also reports that the metroplex project developed efficient alternative routes at DFW and DAL that can be used when severe weather affects normal arrival and departure flight paths.
“DFW Airport is very supportive of the effort to modernize the nation's air traffic control, as our airport has served as an active test site for advanced air traffic safety and capacity enhancement technologies for many years,” said Sean Donohue, chief executive officer of DFW. “NextGen will make air travel more efficient and safer for our customers, and it will allow our current aviation infrastructure to be better utilized.”