China, U.S. Collaborating on Air Traffic Research

September 29, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman
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With growing civil air traffic, the Middle Kingdom is an ideal laboratory for developing new ways of managing skyways.

The Chinese Aeronautical Establishment (CAE) and NASA have signed a formal memorandum of understanding to cooperate on advanced air traffic automation. The five-year agreement calls for both groups to share research into realizing more efficient and timely air traffic.

According to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who met with CAE officials on a trip to China in August, China faces a “substantial increase” in air travel in the near future. The joint research will acquire and analyze data from Chinese airports as they deal with increasing traffic. This will help identify potential improved air traffic management practices that would allow air carriers to plan departures better to increase efficiencies.

Ultimately, the goal is to help both countries improve their air transportation concepts and technologies, and the results could be shared with other nations. This effort complements work by the Airspace Operations and Safety Program in NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. NASA will work with U.S. airlines and industry, as the CAE already is working with Chinese airports and airlines, as well as the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the China Civil Aviation Authority and the China Air Traffic Management Bureau.

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