Airlines should save 8.7 million litres (2.3 million USgal) of fuel and produce 23,000t fewer carbon emissions per year once a new set of "metroplex" procedures go live in Northern California within three years, says the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Part of a collaboration between the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Southwest Airlines, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) and officials from the four metroplex airports - Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento - the performance based navigation (PBN) procedures programme will include new high altitude routes that avoid military airspace as well as optimised profile descents (OPDs) that allow for idling arrivals to a runway, in some cases from more than 100nm (185km) from the airport. The FAA says the procedures in total will cut 1.5 million nm per year from routes airlines fly into and out of the area.
The FAA is targeting a total of 21 metroplex areas around the US for similar enhanced procedures, having already launched efforts in Washington DC, Dallas/Fort Worth, Charlotte and Atlanta.
In Atlanta, the FAA estimates airlines will be able to cut 1.2 million nm per year from their routes into and out of Atlanta, equating to 11 million fewer litres of fuel burned and 30,000t of carbon emissions not emitted. For Charlotte, the FAA estimates there will be 2.5 million fewer nm flown annually, with 14 million litres of fuel saved and carbon emissions reduced by 35,000t annually.
"We'll follow this template in Southern California as well," said FAA acting administrator Michael Huerta when announcing the Northern California programme on 19 March, adding that airspace experts, air traffic controllers and industry stakeholders are already at work studying the Los Angeles and San Diego areas for the effort. "Stay tuned for more to come," he said.