Jet Blue to test new flying system at Orlando International Airport

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Airline and government officials announced major changes coming to Orlando International Airport on Thursday.

Jet Blue is testing a new system to track planes.

WFTV's Jamie Holmes found out the effort could speed up efficiency, save fuel and eventually lower ticket prices.

Between Orlando, Miami, and Tampa, Florida has some of the busiest airports in the nation. That's why Jet Blue wanted to try its new NextGen system at OIA.

NextGen, simply put, is a new way to fly.

"For an airline, 40 percent of our cost structure is based on fuel, so this is a big deal," said Dave Barger, CEO of Jet Blue Airways.

NextGen uses GPS instead of radar to guide pilots. Instead of the visual interruption every six seconds produced by radar, GPS means ground control can keep a constant eye on aircraft. It also allows a smoother descent, which burns less fuel.

"That reduces costs, it reduces emissions, and [it] makes for a much more efficient system," said Michael Huerta, Federal Aviation Administration acting administrator.

Right now, only Jet Blue is utilizing this technology, even using simulators to train pilots. And all the other airlines are watching to see how successful it is for Jet Blue.

"You know, we can talk about driving technology and what is good for the airline and the consumer; this will also raise the standard for the safest airline system in the world even further," said Huerta.

With the new technology, Jet Blue estimates it could save $23 million a year in fuel on flights in central and south Florida.

It would also fly more than 5 million fewer miles per year.