WheelsUp: Two air traffic controllers are sitting in the tower overlooking the runway. There are planes lined up on the taxiways ready to take off.

Perched over the airport, air traffic controllers safely conduct the migration of arriving and departing flights. For the past decades there existed only one path to depart those runways — straight.

The Mission

With flights at certain airports no longer restricted to a single departure route, portals open in the sky for additional flights to leave the airport. At the busiest airport in the world it equals eight to 12 extra departures per hour.

Making It Work

The timeline we are creating makes it easy to evaluate benefits. But to show you how those benefits are arriving means revealing the before and after of what is taking place at airports every day. Use the simple visuals below to get an idea about new upgrades that make the boarding and departure experience more predictable for airlines and more enjoyable for passengers.

NextGen Technology

Without NextGen

With only one window of departure open, air traffic controllers are limited to how many departure clearances they can make at any given time. This leads to congestion on taxiways.

A flight path leaving a runway straight off the runway.

Getting Results


More Departures Per Hour

Atlanta serves 89 million passengers a year and more than 3,100 flights take off and land there every day. With the added departure routes, air traffic controllers in Atlanta have the ability to move between eight to 12 additional aircraft off the ground every hour. It now takes one minute to clear a flight for a departure, instead of two minutes that were necessary with traditional equipment.

Effective Gate to Gate Time (FY)

A more efficient system brings additional benefits. By adding new departure portals and allowing more flights to get off the ground faster, gate to gate times across the country are improving year over year. See the improvements to selected airports from Atlanta below, or find out what improvements are happening at your airport.

Origin Minutes per Flight Destination
2010 2011 2012 2013
154 157 151 152
122 117 113 117
150 149 140 146
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta to Newark Liberty
Year (Fiscal Year) Effective Gate-to-Gate Time (Minutes per Flight)
2010 154
2011 157
2012 151
2013 152
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood
Year (Fiscal Year) Effective Gate-to-Gate Time (Minutes per Flight)
2010 122
2011 117
2012 113
2013 117
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta to New York — La Guardia
Year (Fiscal Year) Effective Gate-to-Gate Time (Minutes per Flight)
2010 150
2011 149
2012 140
2013 146

Point Of View

Point of View: Additional departure paths off Atlanta runways are shown.


Up Next in The Experience: Every day, about 85,000 flights criss-cross the skies. For the past 60 years, World War II-era technologies have forced flights to follow an inefficient path from city to city. With the inception of satellite-based navigation there are new highways in the sky for flights to get to destinations quicker than before.