[Avionics Today 12-16-2014] NASA researchers have begun flight tests of computer software that shows promise in improving flight efficiency and reducing environmental impacts of aircraft, especially on communities around airports.
The Airborne Spacing for Terminal Arrival Routes (ASTAR) software is designed to give pilots specific speed information and guidance so that planes can be more precisely spaced, enabling pilots to fly a follow-the-leader approach to their destination airport.
This type of approach would minimize flight path deviations, allow more efficient use of existing airspace and possibly reduce noise over communities surrounding airports — all of which could lead to reductions in commercial flight delays.
The software is currently being tested on the Boeing ecoDemonstrator 787 test airplane as part of Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator program, which aims to identify and accelerate the development and testing of new technologies and methods that can potentially reduce the environmental impacts of aviation.
Following completion of the flight test program, the NASA team will apply the lessons learned to improve the software and then begin development of actual flight hardware for further testing and eventual certification for use.