• New technology helps more airplanes take off at Hartsfield-Jackson

    By: Jim Strickland

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the first in the U.S. where air traffic controllers are squeezing more planes into the same piece of sky.       
     
    Technology called Equivalent Lateral Spacing Operations (ELSO) is now fully implemented after two years of testing.
     
    "It'd be the equivalent if you’re in a big parking lot trying to get out, and there's three lanes going out, now we have four lanes going out," said Federal Aviation Administration Traffic Management Officer Rich McClelland.
     
    Ninety seven percent of the planes at the airport have GPS technology that allows controllers to track them more accurately. The FAA has been able to open another lane of outgoing airspace without cutting safety. 
     
    "Eight to 12 more jets can leave per hour," said McClelland. 
     
    "They get to their destination on time more frequently, which is the reliability piece, and therefore the flights depart on time as well," said Delta Air Lines air traffic management director Mark Hopkins.
     
    A second technology, called Wake RECAT, has re-categorized the type of turbulence left by a jet's wake. 
     
    "We're getting the planes out quicker. RECAT has done wonders for this airport," said air traffic controller Brian Kellman.
     
    After a 10-year study, the FAA has found today's newer jets create less turbulence for the plane behind. Jets are landing and taking off closer together.
     
    "Which means if you’re in one of these airplanes waiting to take off, you get airborne sooner," said McClelland.  
     
    Taxi times have been cut by up to two minutes. Delta figures that could save them up to $18 million annually in fuel.


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