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Study Says More Time at the Gate Equals Less Airplane Emissions

BOS airport map

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It was recently announced how new guidelines for streamlining flight paths and landings could cut fuel use by 15 percent and result in a nice decline in emissions. Now, researchers at MIT say that more time at the gate could also slash fuel use and emissions from aircraft.

The study, funded by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, was carried out at Boston Logan International Airport where the researchers found that if planes were held at their gates for an average of four minutes and 18 seconds, runway congestion cleared up. That lead to 20 percent less taxiing time for the planes, which reduced fuel use by 75 liters per plane. As a bonus, even with the wait time, planes were actually up in the air more quickly without the traffic jam on the runway.

Taxiing accounts for the emission of 6 billion tons of CO2 a year in domestic U.S. flights with European flights emitting a similar amount of greenhouse gases from taxiing. If the new flight path and landing guidelines were paired with four minutes wait time at the gate, aviation emissions could be reduced by millions of tons a year.

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