A simple solution to congested skies

By Dan Catchpole

Danieljcatchpole[at]gmail[dot]com

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Introduction

Feb. 14, 2019, ©. Leeham News: Flight delays cost the airline industry

Traffic back ups are increasing–so much so that Airbus has invested in improving air traffic management to avoid congestion affecting aircraft sales.

billions of dollars each year. They cause travelers untold aggravation and inconvenience every day. And the main culprit—air traffic congestion—is only going to get worse as Boeing and Airbus deliver tens of thousands of jetliners over the next couple decades.

Regulators, lawmakers and the aviation industry in the United States have settled on spending billions of taxpayer dollars on NextGen—after having already spent billions—to implement complex technical solutions to keep the skies safe and cut down on flight delays.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimated in 2017 that implementing NextGen will cost roughly $35.7 billion by 2030–$20.6 billion from the FAA and another $15.1 billion from the aviation industry.

NextGen has moved with the swiftness of a sprawling, technocratic federal program—that is to say like an elephant at the ballet. It has endured delays and cost escalation, though these have not been crippling. However, it is years away from unclogging America’s congested air spaces.

Moreover, there are very real questions as to whether NextGen will be able to deliver all the FAA promises it can.

Summary
  • Air spaces are getting more crowded, leading to greater flight delays.
  • Airbus is concerned that congestion could hurt demand for jetliners, and is taking steps to improve air traffic flow.
  • Substantial questions exist as to NextGen’s ability to unclog air traffic congestion.
  • Taking a system-wide approach that taps into airlines’ desire to maximize profits could be implemented now, say proponents.

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