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New Aviation Technology Brings Safer Travel Today, Looks To Future
In Alaska, landing a commercial aircraft has its unique challenges. Mountains surround the airport in Juneau; Sitka's small runway or Kodiak's strip that ends at the side of a mountain have first officers watching the captains-only landings.
"The weather around here can be unpredictable," said Clarissa Conley, the F.A.A. manager for Juneau International Airport in a New York Times report. "You name it, we've got it. And the terrain can make flying here pretty challenging, particularly when visibility is low."
Addressing that specific issue of today, Alaska Airlines developed satellite guidance, a navigation technique that made landing at Alaska's airports far safer and is a big part of the Federal Aviation Administration's plan to modernize the nation's air traffic system.
But an AVWeb post notes NASA saying that "if weather conditions permit, the Falcon jet will trail commercial aircraft flying in the Southern California region, in coordination with air traffic controllers." NASA does say that if following a commercial airliner, the distance will be ten miles between aircraft.
The NASA study and similar investigations by the European community hope to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and, in turn, reduce emissions by the commercial airline industry.
[Photo credit - Flickr user Niels van Eck]