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JetBlue part of new traffic control program

WASHINGTON - Beginning next year, Forest Hills-based JetBlue Airways will begin using satellite-based technology that is key to modernizing the nation's air traffic control system, federal and airline officials have announced.

The FAA will spend $4.2 million to install the "NextGen" global-positioning-system-capable equipment in 35 JetBlue A320 jets over the next two years, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. The low-cost carrier will pay for flight operations, pilots and aircraft maintenance, the FAA said.

"Our investment today will yield dividends far into the future, not just for JetBlue, but for all airlines," said Dave Barger, JetBlue's chief executive.

The technology will enable JetBlue planes to fly more precise flights from Boston and New York to Florida and the Caribbean, saving time, money and fuel, officials said Thursday.

The FAA is replacing the nation's air traffic control system, which is based on World War II-era radar technology, with a GPS-based system. Radar updates the location of planes about every 5 to 12 seconds, but the GPS technology will update locations every second, providing controllers with real-time information.

Combined wire services

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