The FAA's modernization effort touches nearly every part of the country with new technology and procedures that make aviation — including air travel and package delivery — more efficient.
More Efficiency in Memphis
Wake turbulence, the swirling air generated behind an aircraft, can create hazardous conditions for the one behind it. But new standards known as Wake Recategorization, or Wake Recat, enable air traffic controllers to safely reduce spacing between departing or arriving aircraft. More aircraft can take off and land, which reduces arrival delays, and time waiting on taxiways and runways with engines burning fuel.
Our network could operate 14 days with the amount
of fuel we've saved since Recat was deployed.
Dan Allen, FedEx
Managing Director of Flight, Technical, and Regulatory Compliance
At Memphis, the benefits of Wake Recat are similar to building a new runway. As a superhub for FedEx Express, Memphis is the busiest cargo airport in North America. Wake Recat creates 17 percent more capacity for the freight carrier. When aircraft can fly in and out quicker, the airport can handle even more flights. FedEx reports that Wake Recat saves several minutes per flight during taxiing and in high-altitude airspace. Those time savings multiplied by all the aircraft using the airport each day makes a big impact and helps people receive packages sooner. Since Wake Recat's deployment in November 2012, FedEx has saved more than 14 days’ worth of fuel.
New Arrival Procedures at Minneapolis
Properly equipped aircraft can use new procedures for a smooth, continuous descent from cruising altitude to the airport rather than traditional step descents. With the new Optimized Profile Descents (OPD), aircraft engines can run near idle. The lower thrust settings use less fuel, create less noise and fewer carbon dioxide emissions, and provide a more comfortable experience for passengers.
Minneapolis is just one airport benefitting from OPDs. According to a recent analysis, aircraft arriving at Minneapolis used 2.9 million gallons less fuel per year, which is more volume than four Olympic-sized swimming pools. Aircraft also emit 28,465 fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to taking more than 12,000 cars off the road.
More Landings in Low Visibility
Our modernization efforts also include new procedures that make it easier to access airports across the country during bad weather and at night when it is hard to see. We reduced landing visibility requirements from 2,400 feet to 1,800 feet at more than 500 runways. This means aircraft can more often land at their intended destination rather than diverting to another airport. To use these lower-visibility procedures, aircraft must be equipped with either autopilot, computer-directed navigation, or a head-up display (a transparent readout of flight data on the aircraft's windshield). Most commercial aircraft today have at least one of these systems. At Philadelphia, reduced visibility requirements enabled about 85 more arrivals per day.
Learn more about the FAA's modernizations efforts in your area.