A fuel-saving flight plan

The path traced today by planes arriving at airports is a tangle of wasted time and fuel. A startup near Seattle has a program that makes landings simpler, shorter - and smarter.

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You might think pilots and air traffic controllers had settled on the most efficient way to approach a runway by now. But you'd be wrong. Planes coming into a typical airport today are following procedures essentially unchanged since the late 1940s.

There is a better way. A startup called Naverus has developed a new FAA-approved method of air navigation. The company says its technology, developed to help pilots avoid mountaintops in Alaska, can cut fuel costs 10%.

Naverus's GPS-based system programs flight paths and downloads them to onboard gear. Rather than following a flight plan that navigates from one radio transmitter on the ground to the next (which is often not the shortest route between two airports), it calculates the most efficient route from takeoff to landing. The pilot sets the course, and the system does the rest. Smoother flights (nice) and fewer delays (nice!!) ensue.
NEXT: The old way: Dive and drive
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Last updated July 09 2008: 1:08 PM ET