May 29, 2008 23:34 by human
You think you hate sitting on the runway couped up in a plane that seems to be going nowhere. Well, the airlines (and the planet) hates it too. In 2007 $1.6 billion of jet fuel was burned by planes waiting in line to take off at airports. That's 740 million gallons of fuel.
And from the perspective of climate change 7.1 million metric tons of CO2.
And those numbers aren't going down. As fuel costs and delays increase, they're expecting about $2 billion to be wasted in 2008. All of this is from research by a U.S. Congressional Committee researching ways to decrease the costs of air travel.
Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be too much the airlines can do to decrease these numbers. The top suggestion of the committee is a billion dollar program to update America's RADAR system to a satellite pased system. This would allow flights to travel more direct paths, instead of having to alter course to stay on RADAR screens. And it would also allow air traffic controllers to keep an eye on planes constantly, instead of a blip every 12 seconds, as is currently the case.
satellite systems are already used all throughout the world, and the efficiency gains are obvious. Of course, the costs are tremendous. Just outfitting the planes with the new technology would cost $15 B. And then you need upgrades to the air traffic control stations as well as new satellites.
But it would apparently be more than worth it. While the cost of wasted fuel is only $2 B, the total cost to the economy, in lost productivity is around $41 B per year.