Major US airports will soon be using new software that calculates when an airplane must leave the boarding gate to cut down on pollution by limiting runway idling, officials said Tuesday.
This air traffic management software, developed by the US space agency NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), will be introduced in 27 airports in major cities across the country.
Tests carried out at the Charlotte, North Carolina airport show that more than one million liters of fuel a year can be saved, the equivalent of 185 New York-Chicago flights aboard a Boeing 737.
The software also cuts down on delays -- 916 hours over four years, the equivalent of waiting 15 fewer minutes on the runway for more than 3,600 flights.
Air traffic controllers currently "have the airline schedule, but we don't know exactly when they're going to be departing until they get the spot on the ramp and talk to traffic control," said FAA administrator Steve Dickson during a presentation on the new software.
"Now we'll have advanced visibility into the metrics that the airline has so that we can be much more specific about predicting time departure, and that just allows us to manage the rest of the system much more effectively and remove those bottlenecks on the ground," he said.
Reducing airplane taxiing time is one way the aviation industry -- responsible for up to three percent of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming-- is using to decrease its carbon footprint.
On the ground, companies can also run aircraft with electric motors rather than a jet engine, or have a tractor tow the airplane out to the runway.