BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Flying nowadays can be tedious because of the delays, cancellations, and all the other issues that may arise.
However, Virginia Tech Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, Susan Hotle is working with the FAA to make sure people’s next flight goes more smoothly.
According to the flight tracker, FlightAware thousands of flights are delayed or canceled every single day.
Hotle created the “Taxi Event Extractor” tool looking to cut down on planes taxiing on the runways.
“Taxiing would be the time or the movement, between gate out to wheels off, so when you are on the pavement or when you are wheels on to gate in,” said Hotle.
Here’s how it works:
“The taxi event extractor utilizes airport layout data as well as radar data. So, we have a second-by-second ping of each airplane on the airport surface,” said Hotle.
The tool allows Hotle to see where the most delays occurred during the taxiing time.
The flight radar data is collected through the FAA’s System Wide Information Management feed, and the project is funded through grants by the FAA’s NEXTOR III, an eight-university consortium in aviation operations research.
She says the research focuses on four different factors which include: average speed, flight frequency, average flight weight, and total flight weight on airport surfaces — all of which contribute to taxiing times.
“Where is the inter-runway time, what is the average taxi speed, what is the distance of taxiing,” said Hotle.
Executive Director of Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport, Mike Stewart says research like this is vital to airport operations.
“Customer service — so it’s more predictable and reliable service for the customer, but I can also see a huge benefit for the airlines,” said Stewart.
He explains that more efficiency saves pilot time and the burning of fuel, which could be bad for the environment.
How could this benefit airport operations?
She says her research, “could benefit the aviation industry by providing quantitative evidence of when and where delays occur, thereby identifying major bottlenecks in the system.”
The program also will give researchers detailed taxiing speed and route information records to aid airlines or the FAA in correcting those issues.
So, the next time you are at an airport, Hotle says to remember research like this is being done to take aim at the core problems across the different airlines, airports, and flights — hoping to make the skies a little friendlier for all.