NASA, Honeywell, Boeing, and United Airlines spent the month of February testing a new technology that could enable more aircraft to safely land at an airport in a given time period. The tool, Flight Deck Interval Management (FIM), is being developed as part of NASA’s larger Air Traffic Management (ATM) Technology Demonstration – 1 (ATD-1).

According to NASA,

The prototype hardware and software is designed to automatically provide pilots with more precise spacing information on approach into a busy airport so that more planes can safely land in a given time. The technology is intended to help airplanes spend less time in the air, save money on fuel, and reduce engine emissions – all while improving schedule efficiency to help passengers arrive on time.

You can see the technology in action (and a quick cameo from Flightradar24) in the video below.

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The tests over Washington involved three aircraft, a Honeywell 757 and Falcon 900 and a United Airlines 737. The three aircraft worked in concert to test the FIM technology on dozens of simulated approaches to Grant County Airport in Moses Lake.

Flight paths of all three aircraft during a day of FIM testing.

After flying enough to circle the earth four times, NASA reports the technology worked as expected and they are conducting additional data review. When eventually put in to practice, the technology could help enable more efficient flight paths and cut flight time in the terminal area.


Photo credits: N757HW, N889H, N37420

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