Software developed at NASA's Ames Research Center is enabling major fuel savings for airlines and an increase in environmental efficiency.
The Ames Direct-To software is a product of NASA aeronautics research in air traffic management. The software has been adopted by The Boeing Company for commercial use. Boeing intends to offer airlines the opportunity to subscribe next year to a new air traffic efficiency service that uses the software.
"We're delighted that Boeing is using NASA technology for environmental benefit," said Ames Center Director Pete Worden.
Direct-To enables airlines to save fuel and reduce emissions by automatically identifying flight route shortcuts that are wind-favorable and acceptable to air traffic controllers. NASA demonstrated Direct-To's potential to reduce fuel consumption in the airspace around Dallas-Fort Worth in 2001.
"We estimated a potential combined savings of about 900 flying minutes per day for all aircraft in the demonstration airspace," said David McNally, the project principal investigator at Ames.
Boeing incorporated the technology into its subscription-based Direct Routes. It is part of the company's InFlight Optimization Services that help airlines save fuel and increase environmental efficiency.
Direct Routes automatically alerts an airline's operations center and flight crew when a simple, more fuel-efficient path opens up along an airplane's intended route. The software potentially could save tens of thousands of flight minutes per year for a medium-sized U.S. operator.
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