by Joseph Weisenthal

Filed Under:
aviation, faa

Don't Hold Your Breath Waiting For The FAA To Solve Nation's Air Transport Woes

from the the-sky-is-still-falling dept

The expanded use of private and smaller regional jets has been hard on the nation's air travel system, because these planes use up infrastructure at a level that's disproportionate to the number of passengers they carry. Of course, the problems we've seen all summer only heighten the appeal of private air travel, further exacerbating the problem. Making matters worse is the fact that the FAA has shown no inclination to find innovative solutions. As Lynne Kiesling points out, there are a number of creative solutions out there that could mitigate the problem, none of which are really being pursued. Airlines could be forced to bid on landing rights, for example, which would force companies to prioritize their routes in a positive manner. As it is, landing fees are based on weight, which doesn't account for the longer time small planes spend on the runways. It's also been argued that the GPS system could do a better job of monitoring traffic than the existing radar systems, but plans to go down this route have stalled due to politics. Ultimately, there's no reason to expect the FAA to be innovative. It doesn't face any market pressure and there's no risk of it going under if it doesn't adapt. Instead, the only solution pushed is to encourage airlines to stop using small planes, which isn't very creative at all. All that would do is reduce options for customers, particularly those on less-traveled routes.

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  1. identicon
    Alan Colon, 16 Aug 2007 @ 1:53pm

    Re Commuters

    "My comment cited a piper as an extreme example but the same is true of commuter turboprops. At airports with multiple runways ATC sets aside a commuter runway but that's not possible at LaGuardia or Reagan."

    That's true, but again those are turboprops OWNED and RUN by the airlines. The problem is NOT general aviation, it is the fashion in which airlines operate and schedule.

    The airlines schedule it so these small turboprop airliners are coming in the same time as the mad rush of jet airliners during "rush hour".

    The delays in the system are entirely created *by the airlines* (even weather delays are worsened by the overscheduling of runways).

    The airlines treat runways the same way they treat passenger seats, they overbook and then make the passengers deal with the consequences.

    The core of this is that private aircraft have *NOTHING* to do with the delays and congestion at airline hubs. The airlines are trying to scapegoat private aircraft to avoind having to deal with their management issues.

    To echo Denny's comments, I flew from Denver to DC and back in my private aircraft (a 42 year old Piper Cherokee with monthly payments of $350) and, except for when I got near DC's 'security zone' I did not talk to ANY air traffic control resources. I landed at small fields away from major airports.

    As a side note, the airlines claim the air is saturated with airplanes. I flew over 4000 miles and except for landing air airports I never saw another airplane. The congestion occurs from airlines trying to cram more flights into the same 30 airports at the same times. The remainder of the 5000 airports in this country have no congestion problems.
    The solution is not to try to surpress non-airline aviation, but to encourage it. Let light jets and point-to-point flights bring those other 5000 airports into play. Stop trying to cram more and more traffic into the same 30 airports.

    Also, there are only 30 major terminal airports in this country. Three are around DC, Three are around NYC, Three are in Florida, Three are in California. Including NYC and DC, nine of the 30 busiest airports in the north east. Out west here, I can fly for DAYS and never come within 100 miles of a terminal airport. Mosts states in the country do NOT have a major terminal airport within their boundaries.

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