NASA has given the Federal Aviation Administration new software that could help air traffic controllers better manage busy runways and reduce missed or delayed departures.
The computer tool, known as "Precision Departure Release Capability," or PDRC, was developed by NASA's aeronautical innovators and presented to the FAA last Tuesday.
With PDRC, controllers will be able to more efficiently manage traffic, cut down on missed or delayed departures and allow more aircraft to depart within a given window of time. The software will give controllers a better idea of the time it will take an airliner to travel from its gate to a fixed point in the sky, which will improve estimates for when planes can leave the terminal.
Tests of the software during the past few years have shown that PDRC could help fill as much as 80 percent of the "missed opportunity" slots in air traffic that usually go empty because of timing issues.
PDRC is intended to work with the tools the FAA already uses and help automate the process that determines the time an airplane can head toward the runway, NASA said. It will also help controllers react to changing conditions, such as weather or other problems.
Testing began in May 2012 and concluded earlier this year. The software was officially handed to the FAA during a ceremony at the FAA's headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, August 6.