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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

How can the same flight take longer than it did 10 years ago?

Well, according to an article on msn, flights are now taking much longer, up to 30%, than they did 10 years ago. Given the new technologies, better airplanes, etc., how can this be?

The answer is that airlines have started to incorporate the typical tarmac and air traffic delays that they have experienced in the past as par tof their scheduled "flight time ". While this has been happening for a while, it seems like it is now again getting mainstream media attention and it seems like it is getting worse, not better. Because the FAA penalizes airlines with excessive delays, but does not regulate the amount of time that a flight should take, the airlines have started to calculate their flight times based on the history for a particular flight, instead of the time that a given flight should take, based on the distance + takeoff and landing times. This way, the airline appears to be on-time, even when there are traffic delays. How nice, now we even have to deal with traffic even when we are flying somewhere.

This fact, together with he added hassles of airport security and having to waste a minimum of 2 hours on the airport to guarantee you will get on your flight, has spurred a noticeable amount of private jet traffic.

This sounds like good news to the pilot wanna-be's like myself, who like the idea of additional number of airplanes taking to the skies, which in turn mean an added number of pilots required to fly them.

So next time you are sitting on an airplane wasting a good 1/2 hour - 45 minutes just waiting to take off, remember to thank your friendly airline for planning flights during times where they know you will have to endure this hassle, while not getting punished by the FAA at all.

1 comment:

  1. Part of the problem is that the antiquated air traffic control system we have, cannot handle the added traffic load. The FAA is tasked with the dual duty of promoting and regulating the aviation industry as well as it's safety. Sometimes this duality makes them trip over themselves.