FAA Official: Atlanta Essential To Air Traffic Modernization

A new system in place at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, called Wake RECAT, allows air traffic controllers to send off 5 percent more flights per hour than they previously could.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE
Audio version of this story here.

A complex, multi-year plan to modernize the nation’s antiquated air traffic control system is progressing on schedule, according to federal officials. And nowhere is that more evident than here in Atlanta. 

“Atlanta has been in the forefront of deploying NextGen technology,” FAA Deputy Administrator Mike Whitaker tells WABE’s “Closer Look.”  NextGen, an umbrella term for the modernization efforts, promises to make the nation’s air space less congested and safer.

In an interview with WABE’s Jim Burress, Whitaker points out one program where Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was among the first to implement new technology. Called “Wake RECAT,” the system accurately calculates how far aircraft must be spaced in order to avoid the violent wake coming off an aircraft’s wings.  Having that precision has allowed air traffic controllers to increase by 5 percent the number of flights per hour at Atlanta’s airport, Whitaker says.