The Federal Aviation Administration has introduced new optimised profile descents (OPDS) at ten United States airports.

The new OPDs safely eliminate the need for the fuel-consuming stair-step procedure. Under traditional procedures, aircraft repeatedly level off and power up the engines. This burns more fuel and requires air traffic controllers to issue instructions at each step. With optimised descents, aircraft descend from cruising altitude to the runway in a smooth, continuous path with the engines at near idle. 

Planes heading to Orlando, Kansas City, Omaha, Reno and six airports in South Florida can now slide down from cruising altitude to final approach saving millions of gallons of fuel and reducing greenhouse gases. 

“We are investing across the entire system to provide passengers with the best travel experience.  The era of choppy descents is coming to an end, providing a smoother landing and saving fuel in the process,” said acting FAA administrator Billy Nolen.

In 2022, the FAA implemented new OPDs for 11 airports. With these new descents in place, the organisation estimates that the industry will save more than 90,000 gallons of fuel on average and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 27,000 tons annually. This change is equivalent to fuel used by 62 Boeing 737 flights between New York and Cleveland.

These latest 11 airports bring the total number of airports with the procedures to 64.

Image: FAA