Delta Air Lines will outfit its fleet of 182 MD-88 and MD-90 aircraft as well as several flight simulators with standardized, state-of-the-art glass cockpits and GPS navigation that will improve efficiency, reduce environmental impact and position the airline to take advantage of procedural improvements outlined in the Federal Aviation Administration’s Next Generation Air Transportation System.
The enhanced avionics suite, developed by Innovative Solutions & Support, Inc. (NASDAQ: ISSC), will allow the aircraft to fly shorter flight paths and take advantage of continuous-descent, Required Navigation Performance (RNAV) approaches to reduce fuel consumption, carbon emissions and noise levels — a primary objective of NextGen. The addition of GPS capabilities as well as the incorporation of Data Link and ADS-B will allow pilots to fly safer as the three systems aid flight crews in identifying nearby air traffic, weather and terrain on flat panel displays in the cockpit.
Due to the lighter weight of the new equipment, Delta will see an immediate improvement in fuel economy while long-lasting benefits from the new flight decks include reductions in CO2 emissions by 80 million pounds annually and a 50 percent decrease in the aircraft noise footprint once NextGen procedures are fully implemented. The standardized flight decks will improve situational awareness for flight crews and are expected to increase operational flexibility, simplify maintenance and improve dispatch and on-time reliability.
“In addition to deploying technology enhancements, Delta continues to work closely with the FAA as it advances NextGen procedures — many of which are being developed at key hub airports,” said Steve Dickson, Delta’s senior vice president-Flight Operations. “Delta continues to invest in NextGen and looks forward to the FAA’s continued progress in systemwide implementation of these improvements, especially at these key hubs, which promise to deliver real savings as well as safety and efficiency enhancements.
“The cockpit upgrades also build on Delta’s commitment to give our flight crews the advanced technology tools they need to perform their job safely and efficiently for our customers.”
Installation of the enhanced flight deck technology across the MD-88 and MD-90 fleet is slated to begin in early 2014 and will be completed by IS&S technicians at Delta TechOps facilities. The process is expected to take approximately two years.
“We are delighted Delta has chosen Innovative Solutions and Support to upgrade its MD-88/-90 fleet,” said Shahram Askarpour, president – Innovative Solutions & Support. “The equipment provides cost-effective solutions for upgrading legacy avionics platforms with state-of-the-art technology and brings NextGen capabilities to mature air-transport aircraft.”
Delta continues to enhance technology across its fleet — including updates to nearly all Airbus and Boeing aircraft — aimed at taking advantage of the performance and efficiency improvements that will be realized once the FAA fully implements the NextGen system.
Significant reductions in environmental impact, both in noise and emissions, as a result of these improvements, are part of Delta’s continued social responsibility efforts. The airline has improved overall fuel-efficiency by an average of 1.7 percent from 2009 to 2012, exceeding goals set by the International Air Transportation Association. Since 2005, Delta has reduced its annual aircraft greenhouse gas emissions by 8.4 million metric tons, an 18.5 percent reduction.