Last updated: 03:30 PM ET, Thu September 24 2015

NASA Hoping To Save Commercial Flights Time, Fuel

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | September 24, 2015

NASA Hoping To Save Commercial Flights Time, Fuel

NASA is offering its proprietary software application to commercial airlines to help trim time from flights and save fuel in the process.

The app, known as the Traffic Aware Planner (TAP), helps to make “traffic aware strategic aircrew requests” (TASAR).

OK, in English, the app works with the aircraft’s inherent communications system and is able to determine the flight’s current route, altitude, and position. It then searches for alternative routes that can help conserve fuel or shave off a few minutes of time.

The app then makes the suggestion to the pilots, who can either decline the advice or request a route change. Virgin America and Alaska Airlines are currently testing the application.

The software was initially tested at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, on simulators. When it was tested on a real flight between Virginia and Kentucky, test pilot William Cotton told that it “worked well. We used it to make a route change request from air traffic control, which they granted. We got a shortcut that saved four minutes off the flight time.”

That might not sound like a lot of time to passengers, but it’s an eternity to airlines – especially when you start adding up that four minutes and saved fuel on numerous flights.

“The system is meant to help pilots make better route requests that air traffic controllers can more often approve,” David Wing, TASAR project lead, told “This should help pilots and controllers work more effectively together and reduce workload on both sides from un-approvable requests.”


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