ATM Modernization

NextGen Airspace Technology Demonstration Lab Opens in Charlotte

By Woodrow Bellamy III | June 28, 2016
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[Avionics Magazine 06-28-2016] The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), in collaboration with NASA, has officially opened the new Airspace Technology Demonstration (ATD-2) laboratory at Charlotte International Airport in North Carolina. The laboratory is part of a five-year test project aimed to streamline the arrival and departure of aircraft and improve surface operations to increase safety and efficiency and reduce fuel use in the country’s aviation system.

Left to Right – U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx looks on as NASA Administrator Charles Bolden speaks about the new airspace technology demonstration center in Charlotte. Photo: NASA
The ATD-2 project, part of the FAA’s NextGen initiative, is the next major step in both the DOT and NASA’s efforts to create the air transportation system of the future, according to NASA. This initiative will provide coordinated schedules between the ramp, tower, terminal, and center control facilities, giving air traffic managers the tools to make better decisions about how to reduce congestion.
NASA has made a commitment to transforming aviation by reducing its environmental impact, maintaining safety in increasingly crowded skies, and paving the way to new aircraft technologies. The agency projects that its green aviation initiatives could save the commercial airline industry as much as $255 billion over the next 25 years.
“Imagine being able to spend less time pushing back from the gate, taxiing to the runway and taking off,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “The work that will be accomplished in this demonstration lab could be a game changer in terms of reducing airport congestion, which is good for passengers and for business. It’s also good for the environment, as engines spend less time running on the ground.”

Charlotte Douglas International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the U.S. with almost 45 million passengers flying through it annually. The airport is the second busiest hub for American Airlines, which operates about 90 percent of the airport’s approximate 700 daily flights. Testing ATD-2 at the Charlotte airport will demonstrate how the system can help balance air traffic at smaller and larger airports with intersecting air traffic routes. 

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