The FAA and JetBlue announced today that they will be partnering in the testing of GPS-based navigational systems on some of the carrier’s routes. The system, commonly referred to as "NextGen," makes additional flight routings available via satellite-based navigation rather than the legacy radar-based systems. As many as 35 aircraft, roughly a third of the company’s Airbus A320 fleet, will be equipped with the systems.
Initially the NextGen routes will be between the carrier’s hubs in New York City and Boston and destinations in Florida and the Caribbean. Given that New York City has some of the most congested airspace in the world getting any incremental efficiency from operations will be good for the company and for passengers. Additionally, it is expected that the new navigational systems will eventually permit the operation of new flight paths between these regions.
The initial hardware cost, roughly $4.2MM, will be borne by the federal government while the training and installation costs will be borne by the carrier. The installation will begin in 2012.
More details in the FAA press release, here.