Purdue Researchers Tackle Airspace Modernization

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Researchers at Purdue University say it's not necessarily a lack of capacity that is bogging down air transportation, it's the plodding pace of change. So they've developed a mathematical model that might help the FAA design a system that can respond more quickly to changes, thereby maintaining or adding capacity without huge capital infusions. "Improving agility, we found, requires not so much that you build a brand new runway at every large airport," said Daniel DeLaurentis, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics, told Innovations Report. "You need to be able to add capacity in a variety of other quicker ways. One of the problems in the current system is that it takes so long to develop new capacity at a major airport that by the time the capacity is available, the demand has already changed." The model the university team came up with takes a holistic approach to the issue, applying technological, economic and policy factors simultaneously to try and predict how best to manage air traffic. Among the themes addressed is the potential increase in air taxi operations using very light jets. The study was sponsored by NASA and includes recommendations on policy changes, not just technological and infrastructure improvements.