NASA’s NextGen Software Will Improve Departure Flow

 - August 26, 2013, 4:05 PM

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has delivered new precision departure release capability (PDRC) software to the FAA; it is designed to improve the flow of air traffic from the moment an aircraft leaves the ground until it reaches cruise altitude.

PDRC tests conducted since 2011 have demonstrated that the tool helps fill slots in the high-altitude traffic flow that would otherwise go empty due to timing issues by predicting both optimal departure times and departure runways. Prediction data is then automatically sent to en route centers, where PDRC’s en route model provides ascent trajectories from takeoff to the merge point in the high-altitude traffic stream.

The new software was developed for the FAA after an analysis of aircraft operations showed that uncertainty in precise departure times attributable to bad weather and heavy traffic results in missed opportunities to merge aircraft efficiently into the high-altitude traffic flow.

PDRC is expected to complement technologies and procedures already being used to manage traffic flow and ease delays through each phase of flight. NASA’s handoff of PDRC to the FAA marks the third time in just the past two years that the two agencies have successfully collaborated on development of software designed to improve the efficiency of the U.S. air traffic control system.