Sea-Tac saving fuel while planes are on the ground

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by GLENN FARLEY / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @GlennFarley

KING5.com

Posted on June 8, 2011 at 7:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 8 at 10:11 PM

SEA-TAC -- You can see it in the rising price of your airline tickets, like gasoline, the price of jet fuel is way up. 

Officials at Sea-Tac are trying to save wasted fuel and air pollution while planes are still on the ground.
 
As crazy as all the planes on the ramp look, it's all choreographed from above.
 
Dave Allen is a trained air traffic controller, but Sea-Tac's old control tower no longer controls traffic in the air.  It's dedicated to controlling airplanes on the ground.  Six years ago, planes just pushed back when they were loaded into traffic jams heading for the runway.  
    
"Now when you get on the airplane, it pushes back and goes straight to the runway for takeoff.  Where you used to back out, wait a couple of minutes, Move forward, wait a couple of minutes. Move forward, get in line," said Mark Coates, Senior Airport Operations Manager. 
 
What used to routinely take up to 15 minutes during busy times, now takes about six. When averaged out day and night, Sea-Tac claims it's ramp tower is saving 30 to 90-seconds of waiting with the engines running per flight. 
 
It's all about moving airplanes as efficiently as possible. And all those little savings, add up to some big numbers. 
 
Like 800,000 gallons of jet fuel saved each year that doesn't turn in to  green house gases like carbon dioxide. 
 
"Those little bites of reducing emissions and fuel consumption is pretty significant," said Environmental Program Manager Russ Simonson.
 
Converting this into a ramp tower only became possible after FAA air traffic controllers moved to a new taller tower about six years ago.  
 
The ramp control is privately operated and paid for directly by the airplanes..

 

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