Monday, February 26, 2007

Smarter Skies

Beijing has 16 million inhabitants, an economy that grew 12% last year and the 2008 Summer Olympics coming to town. If any city needs to let in more planes, it's this one.

The Chinese are adding a runway to Asia's second-busiest airport, but officials there also are hoping new technology will free up more space in the skies. In January the Civil Aviation Administration of China struck a deal with ERA, an Alexandria, Va. company, to install 27 devices, each the size of a minifridge, at Beijing International, and 5 more within a 12-mile radius of the airport. The boxes are packed with sensors that can track planes in flight and on the ground, as well as airport vehicles. More frequent and accurate data on the location of aircraft will let the Beijing airport safely cut the distance between planes as they descend.

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