The FAA is outfitting 35 of JetBlue’s planes with GPS technology in the hopes of attracting the airline industry to help finance the government’s overhaul of the air traffic control system, known as NextGen The Washington Post reports.
The outfitting of some of JetBlue’s planes is apart of a much larger push by the FAA to implement a much more accurate air traffic control system that will allow planes to fly closer, and take-off and land more frequently, which will prevent delays at increasingly congested airports.
According to The Washington Post, the FAA plans to have the country “blanketed” with GPS coverage by 2013 with a goal of having all airlines equipped with GPS by 2020.
The largest hurdle right now for the FAA is cost. The federal government is expected to provide anywhere from $15 billion to $22 billion to cover most of the cost of implementing the NextGen system but the FAA is relying on the airlines to cover the cost of outfitting their planes with the GPS tracking technology required.
By outfitting the JetBlue planes for free, the FAA is hoping to entice the airlines by demonstrating the efficiency of the system. The FAA hopes that if it can show improvements in fuel efficiency that a more accurate system would provide and the increase in on-time departures and arrivals, then airlines won’t have a problem committing to the new system.
Detailed information on the FAA’s multi-faceted NextGen program can be found on its website.