Flight times worldwide could change dramatically due to efforts by a new Sequim aeronautics company.
Daniel Gellert, CEO for Aerospace Safety and Security and a pilot for more than 40 years, patented his idea to better utilize aircraft runways at large international airports.
His idea, Split-Runway systems, divides runways in half, doubling the amount of usable space on most runways of about 15,000 feet.
Gellert and his Sequim associates Larry Speelman, director of technical services, and Virginia Shogren, director and general counsel, say current Federal Aviation Administration requirements for takeoffs and landings are a minimum of 7,000 feet of runway.
"If there is an $800-$2,000 landing fee and if we can add 30 takeoffs and landings an hour during their busy time, then that's significant," Gellert said.
"It's a money-maker for the airlines and the airports."
Simply, the system uses a split-runway system with two linear runways and a dedicated cross-runway taxiway between takeoff and landing strip portions.
The taxiway, or buffer zone, is utilized by aircraft accessing a second runway parallel to the split runway. A second aircraft can taxi across the runway to access the second runway, preventing line-ups, wasted fuel and long waits.
"The real advantage is no taxi time," Gellert said.
"A 737 (airplane) has to taxi a mile-and-a-half at Kennedy Airport (in New York) and then get in a line before taking off. That's a hazard."
Aerospace associates say the project will decrease and/or eliminate runway collisions and increase arrivals and departures, fuel economy, efficiency and crew time once implemented.
The project doesn't require an additional runway since it utilizes existing infrastructure.
"Some airports would need to add 1,000 feet of runway or more, but the cost is minimal compared to adding more runways," Speelman said.
"They'd need some extra lights, paint and pavement, but not much else."
Adding new runways can cost billions as evidenced in Seattle and more recently Frankfurt, Germany, where it cost about $5 billion, he said.
"If (William R. Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles) were to grow, it could add runway space instead of another runway," Speelman said.
Next generation of flying
The excess runway space is in part due to the old order, Speelman said.
Current navigation systems are from the World War II-era; extra landing and departure distance is allotted for pilot and/or system error.
But, airlines and airports are progressing toward global positioning satellite-guided systems rather than control towers only. Commercial GPS use wasn't allowed until 1991, when it still was rare.
Now, GPS-based "Next Gen" landing procedures are being developed independently by Boeing, some major airlines and Naverus, based in Kent.
These will allow for more precise and gradual landings rather than a stair-stepping method that can waste fuel and require planes to loop around while waiting for other planes to land.
Aerospace employees plan to work hand-in-hand with these methods as they are implemented but Next Gen isn't likely to be fully in place until 2025. However, the Obama administration is working on making it happen sooner.
Gellert's plan might be almost ready but several entities must unite, he said.
"This isn't something you can take to procurement and have finished," Gellert said,
"It needs the support of the ports, airlines and FAA. We have to get everybody involved."
Since starting the project two years ago and viewing schematics of most airports, he sees this affecting about 30 percent of larger airports in the world.
"We are the last remaining part to make Next Gen carry through," Gellert said.
"There's a need for this process. People are interested and ready for this to go."
At the beginning of next year, Gellert will test his method at the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, N.J.
"We don't have to prove the system. We just have to model it," he said.
"We have to show it can run with the current system."
Gellert will test various aspects of maximum flight weight at the highest altitude and temperature for landing and departing to make sure the method doesn't infringe upon the 7,000-foot departure area.
He will fly three test planes, a 737-900, an A3-21 and an Embraur-190.
Aerospace employees and Gellert foresee the Split-Runway system being approved in about a year.
Many of the pilots they have spoken to are in favor.
"Pilots love it," Gellert said.
"They dislike sitting there just as much as you," Speelman said.
"They want to get going."
More on Aerospace Safety and Security can be found online at www.aerospacesafetyandsecurity.com.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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