Ten Degrees of Separation in Atlanta

Two additional departure paths from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's runways 10 and 8R

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Separation Management
Provides controllers with tools to manage aircraft in a mixed environment of varying navigation equipment and wake performance capabilities.

Atlanta's international airport is the busiest in the world. It serves 89 million passengers a year and more than 3,100 flights take off and land there every day. Making sure that all those airplanes get in and out in an efficient manner is a complex undertaking, and any delay can cause a ripple through the entire system.

NextGen solutions are increasing your odds of an on time departure from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. A new NextGen separation standard adds two additional departure routes in Atlanta. With the added routes, air traffic controllers have the ability to get between eight and 12 additional aircraft off the ground every hour, clearing aircraft to take off from the same runway one minute apart compared to the previous two minutes between take-offs. The FAA has enabled these additional departures with the use of technology and new procedures, optimizing the use of already available assets.

The new standard, called Equivalent Lateral Spacing Operation (ELSO), reduces the angle between the departure routes in Atlanta from 15 degrees, which is the minimum at other airports, to as little as 10 degrees without the aircraft flying closer together. We can do that because the majority of aircraft that depart from Atlanta have the ability to navigate more precisely using GPS-guided navigation.

"ELSO exceeded our expectations," observed James Allerdice, an FAA NextGen support specialist at the Atlanta Terminal Radar Approach Control facility, which handles arrival and departure traffic in the Atlanta metropolitan region. "It's probably the best thing we've ever implemented here. Everyone likes it — controllers, the airport, the airlines, everyone."

Atlanta is the first airport to gain approval for use of the new standard. The additional departures the standard enables mean aircraft spend less time burning fuel on taxiways and in line for take-off. It translates to an estimated annual savings of $10 million in fuel costs and a reduction in aircraft exhaust emissions.