"What we're trying to tell people is that higher is not always better," Ganoung said. "This is just a snapshot. It doesn't prove anything. But we're analyzing the data."
Preliminary tests also show a fuel savings of about 1,000 pounds per flight, Coppenbarger said.
That may not seem like much, given that a flight burns 100,000 pounds of fuel coming from Hawaii. "A thousand pounds a day on every flight, that adds up," Ganoung said. "Think of the environment, the cut in emissions."
While many agencies are working to test and develop the technology, Coppenbarger says it's at least 10 years from widespread use. Only newer planes carry the Future Air Navigation Systems, or FANS, as standard equipment, allowing transmission of the data used to set flight patterns automatically loaded via computer, Coppenbarger said.
But the team hopes to resume testing in November.
"Any time we can get environmental emissions and noise down, and help airlines stay on time and save fuel, those are all good things for us," Coppenbarger said.
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