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Sensis Innovates Aircraft Departure Sequencing Tool

NYSERDA Contract May Help To Improve Efficiency, Reduce Emissions

Sensis Corporation is developing a prototype Departure Manager, an airport operations decision support application, under a million-dollar project co-funded with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).  The Sensis Departure Manager will be designed to provide air traffic controllers and airline ramp managers with a decision support tool that automates departure sequencing recommendations while maximizing runway utilization and minimizing aircraft taxi time at capacity constrained airports.

U.S. airports operate under a "first-come, first-served" departure sequence, whereby departure clearance is given by the local controller in the order in which the departure request is made by the pilot, adding extra time between departures to accommodate safety and airspace constraints. Consequently, departure queues form at the ends of runways and other points on the airport surface as aircraft await clearance to depart, causing aircraft to burn more fuel and emit more greenhouse gases.

The Sensis Departure Manager calculates the preferred pushback time for each aircraft to form an optimal departure sequence that minimizes excess taxi time and departure runway aircraft queuing. The Departure Manager will consider numerous constraints and factors affecting the departure sequence, including flight departure time, Air Traffic Control traffic management initiatives, traffic flow constraints, wake vortex spacing rules and current airport configuration. As a result, the Departure Manager will maximize runway utilization by using all available runway departure slots while reducing queue delays and taxi times. By reducing taxi times, the Departure Manager also enables reductions in fuel burn and emissions which lower airline operational costs and reduce an airport's environmental footprint. Ultimately, the Departure Manager will improve traveler satisfaction with more predictable flight schedules and fewer airport-related delays.

"At capacity-constrained airports, non-optimal departure sequencing can contribute to long taxi times and departure delays," said Ken Kaminski, director of advanced development at Sensis Corporation. "The Sensis Departure Manager will automatically provide air traffic controllers and airline ramp managers with a near-optimal departure sequence to maximize runway use and minimize taxi times and emissions. We are targeting a 10 percent improvement in runway throughput and taxi time reductions of one minute per aircraft with the Departure Manager."

Francis J. Murray, Jr., NYSERDA President and CEO, noted that "unnecessary airport departure delays can be very costly to the airlines, wasteful of energy and harmful to the environment.  For instance, according to industry statistics, in one recent year, the average departure delay was 12 minutes per flight, resulting in $9 billion in delay and fuel costs to the airlines. NYSERDA has provided $499,751 of the project's total value of $1,001,702. NYSERDA believes that the Sensis approach can eventually be applied to minimize this problem, not only in New York State's major airports, but in airports worldwide."

FMI: www.sensis.com

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