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Revolutionizing Airfield Safety

DFW International Airport debuts perimeter taxiways

eTN Staff Writer  Dec 05, 2008

DFW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, TX - DFW International Airport today opened the first quadrant of its state-of-the-art perimeter taxiway, a revolutionary aviation concept designed and implemented in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that will increase safety and efficiency of runways. The new taxiways will eliminate hundreds of aircraft crossings a day at the airport, where as many as 1,500 runway crossings occur daily. The first quadrant of the system opened on the airport's southeast side, its busiest.

"This perimeter taxiway system will provide the traveling public with a safer and more efficient airport, with fewer delays on the ground and getting passengers to and from their gate faster than ever before," said Lillie Biggins, chairwoman of the DFW board of directors. "By installing this perimeter taxiway system, we are providing a safer and simpler operating environment for both pilots and air traffic controllers."

The concept is simple in theory: build new taxiways along the perimeter of the airfield, enabling arriving aircraft to taxi around DFW's seven active runways rather than wait to cross them. That avoids the risk of possible incursions and increases the use of runways for takeoffs and landings. It also reduces the need for air traffic controllers to manage intersecting airplane traffic on the airfield.

"This project is a testament to the quality of the staff and the partnerships we have at DFW, which allow innovation and creativity to flourish," said Jeff Fegan, CEO for DFW. "This new standard for safety has been adopted by the FAA and will be the standard for other airports around the world."

Today's opening culminates 17 years of research, planning and development efforts. Along the way, DFW teamed up with the FAA and NASA to test the benefits of a perimeter taxiway system in 2003. Air traffic controllers and pilots completed and overwhelmingly approved of the system during a simulation at NASA Ames FutureFlight Central in California.

"When we tested the system concepts, we were able to eliminate a significant number of runway crossings every hour," added Jim Crites, executive VP of operations for DFW and co-creator of the perimeter taxiway concept. "In addition, we were able to improve communication between pilots and controllers. All of this makes for a safer working environment."

The first quadrant of the perimeter taxiway system was completed at a cost of US$67 million, with 75 percent of the funding coming from the FAA and the remainder funded by DFW. Plans for the other three quadrants will be finalized once additional data on the first quadrant taxiway is collected and analyzed.

The perimeter taxiway project continues DFW's long-standing leadership role in developing and testing airfield safety initiatives, many of which are being adopted worldwide. The airport has collaborated with the FAA to test and implement other safety innovations including Runway Status Lights, Area Navigation and Bird Radar.

DFW International Airport debuts perimeter taxiways
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