Earlier today, Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari and Acting Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta met with key stakeholders about the new Houston Metroplex initiative, an exciting effort to make air traffic control more efficient, help airlines improve on-time performance, and reduce emissions generated by aircraft flying into and out of Houston’s airports.
The key to this innovative solution is the FAA's Next Generation Air Transportation System. NextGen is a comprehensive evolution of our aviation system to make air travel more efficient and dependable—while greening our skies and keeping them safe. It’s a continuous roll-out of new procedures and technology that save fuel, reduce delays, and cut pollution.
And it’s vital to protecting the contribution of civil aviation to our economy – the 10 million jobs and the $1.3 trillion that this industry pumps into our marketplace.
We know that, in the future, our population will grow and we will have more planes in the air. But our current air traffic system simply cannot accommodate the anticipated growth. We need to build the infrastructure to handle them.
The FAA estimates that the Houston Metroplex airspace initiative will allow airplanes traveling into and out of Houston to fly 648,000 fewer nautical miles annually. This and other NextGen procedures will save up to three million gallons of fuel and reduce carbon emissions in the Houston airspace by as much as 31,000 metric tons each year. That's the equivalent of taking 6,000 cars off Houston area roadways.
“Through NextGen, the FAA and members of the aviation industry are teaming up to make some of the most complex airspace in the country some of the most efficient,” said Acting Administrator Huerta.
In fact, Metroplex initiatives are under way or planned in 21 metropolitan areas across the country including Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Washington D.C. and Northern California.
The Houston Metroplex was also selected by the Obama Administration for faster completion as one of 14 high-priority infrastructure projects that will spur economic growth. Rather than taking three years to complete, this project will be completed in two years through environmental streamlining and concurrent reviews.
In addition to the President's support, the Houston Metroplex initiative would not be possible without the many stakeholders working together to make this idea a reality. With the FAA as lead, this project also involved the cooperation of both United and Southwest airlines, the Houston Airport System, and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
As Acting Administrator Huerta said, "Because of this collaboration, we expect to modernize the airspace here much more quickly than we would otherwise."
I want to thank everyone involved in this important effort, and I'm looking forward to seeing the many benefits this airspace initiative will deliver.