National Airspace System: Free Flight Tools Show Promise, but Implementation Challenges Remain
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC
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To help meet the growing demand for air travel, the Federal Aviation Administration FAA, in collaboration with the aviation community, is implementing a new approach for air traffic management known as free flight. Under this approach, FAA is moving gradually from its present use of highly structured rules and procedures for air traffic operations to a more flexible approach, which increases collaboration between FAA and the aviation community. By using a set of new automated technologies tools and procedures, free flight is intended to increase the capacity and efficiency of our nations airspace system while helping to minimize delays. Two of these tools, the Traffic Management Advisor and the passive Final Approach Spacing Tool, provide controllers with a more efficient and effective means to increase the capacity of our nations airspace system by better scheduling, sequencing, spacing, and assigning aircraft to runways. These two tools are expected to allow more aircraft to land during peak periods of traffic, thus increasing capacity and minimizing delays. Another tool, the User Request Evaluation Tool, allows controllers to make more efficient use of the existing airspace by allowing aircraft to fly optimal or more direct routes, thus helping to reduce delays at major airports. Collectively, these tools are also designed to achieve the above benefits without negatively affecting safety.
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