February 28, 2002 at 6:47 PM EST - Updated July 26 at 11:00 PM
OBERLIN, Ohio (AP) - The Federal Aviation Administration showed off its latest technology for keeping planes a safe distance apart.
The User Request Evaluation Tool demonstrated Wednesay at the Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center identifies potential aircraft-to-aircraft conflicts up to 20 minutes ahead of time, according to FAA Administrator Jane Garvey.
The equipment, which the regional air-traffic control center began using Jan. 30, also lets controllers more easily manage pilot requests to take more direct flight routes.
"This technology is the biggest step forward the FAA has made in my career," Garvey said.
Garvey said the technology allows for more direct-flight routes, which pilots like because it saves time and fuel.
The technology is similar to the MapQuest computer highway mapping program, said National Air Traffic Controllers Association President John Carr.
The cost of developing the nationwide system was $300 million.
The Cleveland Center, the busiest air-traffic control center in the world, monitors 3.2 million flights per year.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)