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New FAA Technology Aims to Speed Takeoffs of Planes Idling on Runways

The leading US aviation authority is betting that a new software suite will help make things easier a longstanding frustration for air passengers: Stuck in an airplane waiting to get onto a runway for takeoff.

The Federal Aviation Administration plans to use new software at airports in the next few years that will make it easier to calculate when an aircraft can take off and depart from a runway, officials said on Tuesday.

At Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, the system reduced delays during a four-year test period by a total of more than 900 hours or an average of 15 minutes waiting time for around 3,600 departing flights, according to the FAA. The transport companies also saved fuel and reduced CO2 emissions by avoiding idling, the agency said.

The FAA plans to incorporate the new tools into an airport air traffic management system that the agency developed as part of its air traffic modernization efforts, officials said.

“What we should see over time at the larger airports are fewer taxiway delays and better punctuality,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson at a briefing Tuesday.

That year through July, about 16% of departures were delayed, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, a federal agency. That is 9% more than in the same period last year, when the Covid-19 pandemic severely restricted demand for air travel.

Air traffic controllers using the system will have better insight into the data airlines are using to operate flights, allowing air traffic controllers to more accurately predict more punctual departures and avoid bottlenecks on the ground, Dickson said.

According to a spokesman for the FAA, the software tools should be available at 27 major airports across the country within five to ten years. Airlines must choose to participate in the system that relies on companies to share data with the agency.

Executives of some airlines said they intend to partner with the FAA in this effort. David Seymour, Operations Manager at

American Airlines Group Inc.,

said the airline is excited to see how the technology is applied across the industry.

“Small changes in the way we work can make a big difference in how we reduce emissions, and our customers will undoubtedly enjoy fewer delays in departure and departure,” he said.

The software tools the FAA plans to introduce were developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as part of that agency’s focus on aviation, said Bill Nelson, the agency’s administrator.

Write to Micah Maidenberg at micah.maidenberg@wsj.com

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