JAL Increases use of User Preferred Routes

User Preferred Route vs PACOTS | Commercial Aviation News

JAL to use User Preferred Routes over PACOTS

Flights across the Pacific Ocean use The Pacific Organized Track System, which is known as PACOTS.  Similar in nature to NATS, or North Atlantic Tracks, PACOTS make up fixed airways in the north and northwest areas of the Oakland Oceanic Flight Information Region (FIR).

The bulk of Oakland oceanic traffic flows over a complex and varied Pacific route system. A number of routes connect the continental U.S. and Hawaii with the Pacific Rim, including Japan, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand. Another set of routes traverses the westernmost portion of Oakland airspace connecting Japan and Korea on the north with Australia and New Zealand to the south. The Pacific Organized Track System (PACOTS) provides fuel-efficient routes for long distance transpacific flights. These routes are adjusted every 12 hours in response to upper level wind conditions.

Each time JAL operates a flight between Japan and North America, they use a pre-determined PACOTS route as described above, taking the flight across a specific path with set “fixes” where aircraft must check-in with Oceanic ATC.  This established system works well, but is not always the quickest or the most fuel efficient.

Instead of using PACOTS, JAL currently employs user preferred routes (UPR) on routes between Japan and Honolulu as well as Australia.  JAL now plans to utilize User Preferred Routes on its daily flight between Tokyo-Narita (NRT) and Vancouver, Canada (YVR) as of December 19, 2011.

The graphic at the top indicates the difference between a PACOTS route and a faster, fuel efficient User Preferred Route.

User Preferred Routes, or UPR for short, allows an airline to fly along what it judges to be the most efficient route for each type of aircraft used and improves performance by providing each aircraft an optimal flight path.  UPR takes into account current weather conditions and operational efficiency for each aircraft type, considerations not taken into account by PACOTS.  UPR reduces unnecessary fuel burn and shortens flight times. On the Narita – Vancouver route, JAL estimates it can save a total of 220,000 lbs of fuel alone, which also has the added benefit of decreasing emissions.

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