A simplified method for calculating the spectral emission of nonequilibrium air plasmas is developed. In order to obtain the nonequilibrium energy level populations, the nonequilibrium coefficients are introduced into the Saha-Boltzmann equation. These nonequilibrium coefficients are calculated by using several significant radiative processes. An approach to the determination of nonequilibrium electronic energy level populations of diatomic molecules is also presented. Based on the method, spectral emission of atoms and molecules in a typical air plasma cell is investigated. The results reveal that there is a significant difference between the nonequilibrium and equilibrium emission. We apply the method to the nonequilibrium AVCO R-156 experiment. Good agreement with the measured data is shown, indicating that the method is reasonable and has good accuracy.