Software developed at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett
Field, CA, is enabling major fuel savings for airlines and an
increase in environmental efficiency.
The Ames Direct-To software is a product of NASA aeronautics
research in air traffic management. The software has been adopted
by The Boeing Company for commercial use. Boeing intends to offer
airlines the opportunity to subscribe next year to a new air
traffic efficiency service that uses the software. Direct-To
enables airlines to save fuel and reduce emissions by automatically
identifying flight route shortcuts that are wind-favorable and
acceptable to air traffic controllers. NASA demonstrated
Direct-To's potential to reduce fuel consumption in the airspace
around Dallas-Fort Worth in 2001.
"We estimated a potential combined savings of about 900 flying
minutes per day for all aircraft in the demonstration airspace,"
said David McNally, the project principal investigator at Ames.
Boeing incorporated the technology into its subscription-based
Direct Routes. It is part of the company's InFlight Optimization
Services that help airlines save fuel and increase environmental
Direct Routes automatically alerts an airline's operations
center and flight crew when a simple, more fuel-efficient path
opens up along an airplane's intended route. The software
potentially could save tens of thousands of flight minutes per year
for a medium-sized U.S. operator.