NASA has said it is working with its partners on a new air traffic control (ATC) technology that promises to safely increase the number of airplanes that can land on the same runway at busy airports by more precisely managing the time, or interval, between each aircraft’s arrival. The technology, called Flight Deck Interval Management, or FIM, will also increase chances of your flights — connecting or otherwise — arriving on time, the US space agency said in a statement. “FIM allows controllers to deliver the aircraft more precisely and more predictably, which is a huge advantage that helps the airlines and airport operators more efficiently manage air traffic to minimize delays,” said William Johnson from NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia.
FIM is part of NASA’s Air Traffic Management Technology Demonstration-1- or ATD-1 – a coordinated effort involving NASA, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and industry to develop and evaluate new technologies and procedures related to aircraft scheduling and airport arrivals.
A complex field demonstration of FIM involving NASA, the FAA and industry will be conducted in early 2017 over Washington State, the statement added. Today, current air traffic control technology and procedures can predict arrival times to within a minute or so. But FIM is expected to enable controllers and the airport to count on aircraft arriving within five to ten seconds of a predicted time.
The cockpit-based prototype FIM system combines NASA-developed software with commercially available off-the-shelf hardware and connects the system to the aircraft’s onboard information and navigation systems.