Technology Improving Houston Airport Management

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Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS)
Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport is one of two airports in the country participating in a pilot program that will overhaul how aircraft are tracked. The new system will allow more aircraft to operate in the same airspace.

The multi-million dollar system is currently being installed at Bush and is expected to be functional by early next year. Lance Little is Chief Development Officer with the Houston Airport System.

"It's a migration from what we currently consider to be a ground-based air navigation system to a satellite-based navigation system, which is very similar to your, to the GPS that you use in your cars today." 

Little says the Next Generation Air Transportation System Infrastructure Project, or Next Gen, will reduce traffic jams both in the air and on the tarmac.

"You can have many more flights flying even closer distance to each other in a much safer manner. So the end result of that will be a significant reduction in delays at airports and also a reduction in carbon." 

Little says the program involves what's called the Ground-Based Augmentation System, or GBAS.

"So if you imagine you're in your car and your car has a GPS system, the GPS system communicates with a satelllite and gets you to within 50 feet of your destination. Now, imagine there's an augmentation system on the ground that works along with your GPS system and the satellite to get you even closer — to within, say, one foot of your destination. That's what GBAS does." 

Little says a new Terminal Radar Approach Control facility under construction at IAH will manage movement of all aircraft at Houston's two main airports.

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Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...