For the past week or so the delivery of the promised NextGen efficiency and resulting economy has dominated the North Texas aviation news. Most of it has been focused on the airlines and passengers that fly to and from Dallas/Forth Worth International and Dallas Love Field. But the new NextGen procedures deliver similar benefits to aircraft flying to and from the airports covered by the DFW Class B airspace, including Addison, Fort Worth Alliance, Denton Municipal, Arlington Municipal, and McKinney National Airport.
The FAA’s Metroplex video gives the impression that only airliners going to the DFW and Love Field are the only ones subject to NextGen’s performance based navigation procedures that allow them to fly the more narrowly defined routes, and only airliners are sequenced through time-based flow management so that they don’t bunch up in holding patterns. Air airplanes bound for North Texas airports on instrument flight plans receive the same consideration and sequencing as the airliners. The only real difference is the destination of the optimized route.
The network of Interstate highways that are the Metroplex’s primary arteries of ground transportation is a workable analogy of the invisible routes in the sky that are defined by the satellite navigation system. Each ramp that leads off and on the main arteries is designed for the amount of traffic headed to that destination. Unlike the NextGen system, there is no traffic control system to regulate the comings and goings of terrestrial travelers bound for the same areas at the same time.
Given their efficiencies, the FAA projected that the Metroplex NextGen procedures would save 4.1 million gallons of fuel, which at 2013 prices worked out to $10.3 million. Looking at it another way, the fuel savings means Mother Nature will not have to deal with 41,000 metric tons of carbon each year. Naturally, most of the savings go to the airlines because they represent the majority of the traffic flying to and from the Metroplex, but the FAA computed the savings on all the aircraft activity, so everyone will enjoy their proportional portion of the savings of time, fuel, and money.