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Federal Aviation Administration future search enables breakthrough in Air Traffic Control

FAA press release calls it a "...minor miracle!"

On March 2-4, Marv Weisbord and Sandra Janoff led a future search for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) titled: "Growth without Gridlock: Systems Operations in the 21st Century" sponsored by the FAA.  At the end of the meeting, an FAA senior executive said, "I don't know what to call this--maybe a minor miracle."

FAA administrator, Marion Blakley.
To read the FAA press release, click here...

HERNDON, Va. (AP) -- Air travelers may experience more short delays but fewer long ones under a plan announced Wednesday to ease flight congestion.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the plan, if it works, should reduce the total amount of time that all flights are delayed because of bad weather or crowded airspace.

``It's not just a question of redistributing the pain, it's a question of lessening the pain for everyone,'' FAA Administrator Marion Blakley told reporters at the agency's Air Traffic Control System Command Center.

Much as commuters will leave home later or take a different route to avoid rush-hour traffic, airlines have agreed to take short delays or reroute flights to reduce overall delays in the air traffic system.

Peter Challan, vice president of the FAA's Air Traffic Organization, explained how the plan, which took effect Monday, is supposed to work:

Thunderstorms, for example, cause outbound flights to stack up quickly at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Under the plan, airlines will delay for about 10 minutes flights that are bound for O'Hare. That way, backed-up planes at O'Hare could more quickly get into the air when the weather clears because the airspace over the airport will be less crowded.

All air travelers flying in and out of Chicago would face fewer total delays, he said.

Also, on Friday and Sunday nights during the winter, planes crowd the sky between the Northeast and Florida. Delaying departures for 10 minutes from smaller New York airports such as Buffalo, Syracuse and Elmira for 10 minutes would speed air traffic over the New York metropolitan area during peak traffic times.

The plan is the result of a three-day meeting in early March of representatives from the FAA, pilot unions, major airlines, air traffic controllers and private plane and business jet owners.

``The airlines see an opportunity to take action ourselves to smooth out the flows,'' said Bill Wangerien, vice president of operations planning for Delta Air Lines.

Though no formal agreement was reached, the parties agreed for the first time to cooperate to clear paths in the congested sky.

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