Dwayne Brown Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1726) Michael Mewhinney Ames Research Center, Moffett Field

, CA (Phone: 650/604-3937) Les Dorr FAA, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/267-8521) RELEASE: 97-285

December 15, 1997

NASA/FAA SYSTEM HELPING HOLIDAY AIRLINE TRAVELERS MISS FEWER FLIGHTS Atlanta Hartsfield International, the nation's second largest airport in total passengers, is helping its holiday airline travelers miss fewer connections and wait less time for flights by using a new airport system developed by NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Called the Surface Movement Advisor, the system is primarily a set of computers and software that electronically connects information constantly gathered separately by the three principal entities that make an airport run -- the local airport authority managing the airport's ramp areas, the airlines managing the gates, and the FAA's air traffic controllers. This is the first automated system that distributes each group's information to the others. Until now, these entities only occasionally had access to each other's information. This system makes the airport run more efficiently by reducing ground operations bottlenecks, thus allowing planes to be serviced and dispatched more quickly. Since the system has been in use, it has reduced airline taxi departure times at Hartsfield by more than one minute per flight. Multiplying this minute by the thousands of daily flights in the whole flow of airport operations leads to a scenario in which passengers will less likely miss their flights and will spend less time waiting. "There are well over 1,000 daily departures from Atlanta Hartsfield. That's at least 1000 minutes a day, or at least $40,000 to $50,000 a day saved in airline direct operating costs.

That translates into an annual savings at Hartsfield of $16 to $20 million in direct operating costs," said NASA's manager for the project, Dr. Brian Glass. This means that savings could soon translate into cheaper air fares for travelers." The FAA selected Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport in 1995 as the field test site for the system. In June 1996, Delta Air Lines, the nation's largest airline for passenger miles flown, and several other airlines began daily use of the system at Atlanta Hartsfield. Delta operates nearly 700 flights per day from Atlanta Hartsfield, which serves as its largest hub. "With the introduction of this system at Hartsfield, our customer service has improved, which is very important for the industry as well as for the FAA," said Bill Drew, Delta's Air Traffic Control Systems Manager. "From an industry standpoint, this system helps the air traffic community, airline community and airport community interact better together and make better collaborative operational decisions," explained Dennis Lawson, the FAA's Surface Automation Research and Development Team lead. The system was designed by engineers at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, in collaboration with FAA engineers, air traffic controllers, and airline and airport management staffs. -end-