FAA Brings in Smoother Landings at 42 Airports

New procedure cuts noise, emissions
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2022 12:14 PM CST
FAA Brings in Smoother Landings at 42 Airports
The FAA says Optimized Profile Descents were in place before 2021 in airports in Atlanta, Charlotte, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Houston, and Washington, DC, as well as numerous airports in California.   (Getty Images/Marcus Millo)

Passengers at 42 American airports, including Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Miami International Airport, might have noticed smoother landings in 2021. The Federal Aviation Administration has altered how planes land at those airports and it plans to bring the change to other airports, including New York's LaGuardia, in 2022. The agency has introduced more Optimized Profile Descents, in which aircraft glide down from cruising altitudes instead of using the "stair-step" procedure, in which aircraft level off at different steps, burning more fuel at each step. "If you just think about what takes more energy, walking down the stairs or sliding down a slide, that's basically what the plane is doing," FAA spokesman Matthew Lehner tells ABC.

"There's less fuel burn as you're sliding down toward the approach to the airport," Lehner says. "It also means with less fuel burning you get less emissions in the air." The FAA says switching to OPDs saves an average of 2 million gallons of fuel and prevents 40 million pounds of emissions per airport. "These new efficient descent procedures both save fuel and dramatically reduce emissions, moving us closer to our goal of net-zero aviation emissions by 2050," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. The FAA says the new procedure will also reduce the workload of air traffic controllers and reduce noise for people living near airports. (More aviation stories.)

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