Fight Flight Delays With Satellite Tracking
Another potential result of the NextGen air traffic control system's sweeping upgrades would be a drastic reduction in flight delays. By taking much of the guesswork out of tracking the real-time position of aircraft, planes would need less of a safety buffer, and could actually fly closer together. That doesn't mean that near-misses will suddenly increase — if anything, they should be all but eliminated, as pilots are constantly updated with the location of nearby aircraft, whose own automated systems coordinate to avoid anything resembling a close call. The system also plans to collect more data from weather sensors across the country, weather being the single biggest factor is delays. A full, nationwide rollout of NextGen could improve safety, and cut delays by as much as 38 percent.
Of course, it will take years for this system to reach every airport and aircraft, and with billions in funding still required, a sudden change in political will could leave the program's most promising features on the table. But even the full benefits of NextGen never materialize, its impact can be felt on a local level. Related upgrades in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida have cut delays during the busy winter season by 10 percent. That's five flights per day that aren't delayed, and reason enough to push for NextGen at an airport near you.