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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and JetBlue are partnering up to test drive NextGen, a satellite-based navigation system the FAA hopes will soon replace the nation’s outdated air traffic control. In his blog, Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wrote, “I’m pleased to announce that the FAA and Jet Blue Airways have forged a new partnership to help advance this technology. Under this agreement, the Department of Transportation will invest $4.2 million for NextGen equipment in 35 of Jet Blue’s A320 planes.”
The new technology will allow JetBlue to fly more precise routes, saving time, money, and fuel. This, of course, is one of the main benefits airlines can expect from NextGen, which uses satellites to guide planes through their routes.
For the FAA, it’s an opportunity to see NextGen in action. LaHood writes, “The agreement … allows the FAA to gather valuable data and evaluate NextGen’s role in opening additional, less-congested, and off-radar flight paths along the crowded eastern seaboard.
“By converting to a GPS-based air traffic system, we can get better aircraft information to our air traffic controllers faster. This means enabling more frequent takeoffs and landings, relieving congestion, and further reducing fuel consumption.”
According to the Associated Press, JetBlue will pay for the installation, maintenance, and training costs, while the FAA’s investment will cover the equipment itself.