The Lindbergh Foundation Believes that Innovative Science and Technology Hold the Key to Addressing Humanity’s Environmental and Productivity Challenges

Lesley A. Weitz, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

Reducing Fuel Inefficiencies and Noise Pollution from Aircraft by Exploring the Wider Use of Continuous Descent Approaches at Busy Airports

Category: Aviation/Aerospace: 2006


Projected increases in air traffic are placing a growing strain on the National Airspace System (NAS), which is the common network of airspace, airports, and air traffic controllers across the United States. The capacity demand on major commercial airports is rapidly increasing, even returning to, or exceeding, pre-September 11 levels. With the larger volume of air traffic, delay time and noise restrictions in airport areas have increased and these issues will continually worsen without changes to the current NAS. In addition, increased air pollution, locally and regionally, resulting from aircraft emissions not only degrade air quality at the ground level, but impact regions Plane over housefrom a few miles to thousands of miles from the airport through acid rain. In this research project, Ms. Weitz will explore the combination of cockpit control systems and Continuous Descent Approaches (CDAs) to safely increase airport capacity, while reducing engine noise in neighboring residential areas and decreasing fuel consumption and emissions from aircraft. Cockpit control systems precisely space aircraft along common approach paths to the runway, allowing a safe increase in runway arrival capacity. The CDA significantly reduces the noise of landing aircraft by keeping aircraft at higher altitudes on approach to the airport and reducing power during descent, and previous research has shown it to contribute up to a 17% reduction in fuel consumption over traditional descent methods. Results from this study will be published and shared with NASA Langley Research Center for possible integration with other air-traffic-management research.

Read an update on Leslie's work

Airplane Flying Over Houses


This Lindbergh Grant in Aviation is Sponsored by Lycoming, Inc.

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