• Kyodo


The nation’s air traffic control system will undergo a major upgrade starting in March, with touchscreens replacing the current paper system.

Government officials said Tuesday the new system will help airlines draw up more efficient flight plans as major airports plan to increase arrivals and departures and build more runways ahead of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Under the current system, air traffic controllers suggest routes after analyzing flight plans only once prior to departure and use paper strips to keep flights arriving, departing and passing over airports in order.

The new system will enable air traffic controllers to propose changing routes based on real-time analyses of information so planes can arrive earlier and save fuel, officials at transport ministry said.

The manual system of paper strips and handwritten instructions will be replaced by touchscreen input.

The ministry will begin using the new system at Hakodate Airport in Hokkaido in March, with the remaining 32 airports under the ministry’s control gradually receiving the upgrade by March 2022, the officials said.

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