ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway
Expert Flyer is featuring a special six-part “Ask the Pilot” series. Our expert, Patrick Smith, is an aviator and the author of Salon.com’s popular ASK THE PILOT air travel column. He also hosts the ASK THE PILOT resource site: www.askthepilot.com. Please enjoy this fifth installment of our series.
(Part 5 of 6)
New satellite-based air traffic control (ATC) systems – Will they help or hinder the issue of flight delays?
Certainly the “NextGen” advances are welcome and long overdue. They will improve the capabilities of our airspace system. They will not, however, cure the delays crisis.
Delays are not an airspace issue so much as a * ground space * issue. You can streamline the en route airway structure all you want, but a runway can only accommodate so many takeoffs and landings per hour, period.
Ultimately this is about airline scheduling, and the industry’s berserk infatuation with regional jets. More people are flying than ever before, but they are doing so aboard smaller planes. At airports like LaGuardia and Washington-Reagan, over * half * of the traffic consists of RJs. That’s fifty percent of the traffic carrying maybe 25 or 30 percent of passengers – an inefficient use of space both aloft and on the tarmac. Continue reading →