2014 Tar­mac De­lays Low­est on Record —

Business Traveler (USA) - - TAKE OFFS & LANDINGS - AIR­PORT RE­PORT

In cal­en­dar year 2014, air­lines re­ported the low­est num­ber of tar­mac de­lays longer than three hours since the US Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion started track­ing tar­mac de­lays.

Ac­cord­ing to the DOT’s Air Travel Con­sumer Re­port, in 2014 US air­ports saw 30 with tar­mac de­lays longer than four hours. By con­trast, in 2009, the last full year be­fore the Depart­ment’s do­mes­tic tar­mac rule went into ef­fect, air­lines re­ported 868 do­mes­tic

For the month of De­cem­ber 2014, there were no long do­mes­tic or in­ter­na­tional tar­mac de­lays re­ported at US air­ports.

Tax­iBot, a tow­bar-less 800hp hy­brid elec­tric air­craft trac­tor, is now op­er­a­tional at Frank­furt Air­port. The new tool al­lows the pi­lot to con­trol the Tax­iBot for tow­ing the air­craft be­tween the gate and the run­way with the air­craft’s en­gines turned off.

The Tax­iBot is part of the “E-PORT AN” project at Frank­furt Air­port. Part­ners of the ini­tia­tive in­clude the state of Hesse, Fra­port AG, the Lufthansa Group and the RhineMain model re­gion.

“With in­no­va­tions like the Tax­iBot, we are not only help­ing to con­serve fuel but are also mak­ing an im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to­wards re­duc­ing noise and ex­haust emis­sions at air­ports,” says Kay Kratky, mem­ber of the Lufthansa Ger­man Air­lines Board – Op­er­a­tions & Hub Frank­furt.

are able to fly closer to­gether, but also more di­rect rout­ings, faster de­scents, en­hanced safety and hun­dreds of dol­lars in sav­ings per flight.

A spokesman for the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion says:“By 2020, if you want to fly in con­trolled airspace in the US, you’ll need to have the avion­ics on board that al­low your plane to broad­cast its po­si­tion via satel­lite. The gov­ern­ment fund­ing es­ti­mate to the year 2025 is $15 to $22 bil­lion. On the air­line side, for the avion­ics, it’s $14 to 20 bil­lion.”

Dave Curtis, head of stake­holder and reg­u­la­tory af­fairs at NATS, says sim­i­lar tech­nol­ogy is be­ing looked at in Europe. “The cur­rent route that an air­craft is re­quired to fly is be­tween two ground­based aids 100 miles part – the plane aims for the sec­ond one and flies to­wards it. Per­for­mance based [satel­lite] nav­i­ga­tion is more ac­cu­rate by a mag­ni­tude of about ten. Com­ing into Heathrow, hope­fully you won’t ex­pe­ri­ence any hold­ing, and ar­rive at a spe­cific time and place,”he ex­plains.

“If you can stream­line the routes, make them more ef­fi­cient and re­duce the work­load on the con­troller, ul­ti­mately you can put more air­craft in the sys­tem and give the cus­tomer more choice.”

Birds of a Feather

In the more dis­tant fu­ture, Air­bus sug­gests an­other way of fit­ting more planes in the sky – flock­ing to­gether and fly­ing in for­ma­tion along“ex­press sky­ways.” Its web­site reads:“In na­ture, large birds some­times fly to­gether to save en­ergy and travel fur­ther. When fly­ing in for­ma­tion, the lead­ing bird’s wings gen­er­ate whirling masses of air. The fol­low­ing bird benefits from this air cur­rent to get some free ex­tra lift, which means it needs to use less en­ergy to fly.

“Air­craft wings cre­ate the same ef­fect, which we call‘trail­ing vor­texes.’Mil­i­tary pi­lots of­ten use the same for­ma­tion fly­ing tech­niques to re­duce the amount of en­ergy – fuel burn – that they use.”

OAG’s Grant com­pares the tech­nol­ogy with that be­ing tested by Google in its self­driv­ing cars.“They’ve got quite a few in San Fran­cisco, but they’re not al­lowed to take them on the roads pub­licly. How­ever, it’s es­ti­mated that they will im­prove ca­pac­ity

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