This week we announced that we’re joining forces with NASA on some pretty cool new technology. No, we’re not launching new routes to the moon (yet), but we are one of two airlines testing out new software developed by NASA that could help save our guests time in the air and reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
The new technology, Traffic Aware Planner (TAP), is connected directly to existing systems in the cockpit and helps pilots make “traffic aware strategic aircrew requests” or TASAR. What does this mean in plain English? According to David Wing, the TASAR project lead at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, “It reads the current position and altitude of the aircraft, its flight route, and other real-time information that defines the plane’s current situation and active flight plan. Then it automatically looks for a variety of route and/or altitude changes that could save fuel or flight time and displays those solutions directly to the flight crew.”
Test simulations demonstrated that the TAP technology could shave more than 2,200 hours off of Virgin America flight times every year. The good news is you get to your destination more quickly. The bad news is you get to spend less time ordering food and drinks on-demand or watching your favorite shows and movies on our Red In-flight entertainment system.
In addition, TAP could also help Virgin America save 1.4 million gallons of fuel every year. That helps our bottom line and – since it means fewer carbon emissions – it helps the environment. In fact, our commitment to the environment was one of the big reasons we wanted to test this technology in the first place. Virgin America was the first domestic airline to list its carbon footprint according to internationally accepted standards on the Climate Registry, and we’re always looking for new ways to reduce our carbon footprint. TAP could help us do precisely that.
And that’s good news all around.
For more information, check out NASA’s press release here.