Saturday, July 31, 2010

Did I Say Slots?

I just finished an excellent article that a friend and long-time reader sent me from the Wall Street Journal.

At JFK, More Flying, Less Waiting on the Tarmac

”Today, the long lines are gone thanks to a high-tech reservations system. Now, airlines file flight plans with the Federal Aviation Administration indicating what time they want to take off. A metering program compiles requests, and takeoffs are scheduled in 15-minute blocks of time. Airplanes don't leave the gate until their assigned time. And as a result, the conga line of 40 jets lined up at the end of a runway has been reduced to six to eight.”

This is going to read different ways to different groups so let me say a word to two of them. Controllers, I know a lot of you are thinking, “What’s the big deal? We’ve always known this.” Keep reading. This is the way things happen in the FAA, Government and a lot of life. This solution seemed obvious to me but I was a Center (Enroute) controller. (Yes, I know you forget. That’s the reason I remind you.) I’ll leave it to the Tower folks to say “I told you so”.

For the techno geeks that got excited when they read “high-tech”, keep reading. Just when it becomes obvious that the functions sound like something a controller would do, you find out two retired controllers are doing it. Real, live, human controllers. Contractors got their slice. Automation got its. Controllers lost a couple more jobs. Pay attention, there’s a lot to learn in this article. And it all started because....

”It was the four-month closing of JFK's longest runway that prompted a new approach. To avert chaos, the airport deployed a beefed-up scheduling system used to smooth operations during snowstorms.”

Yes, I said slots.

Don Brown
July 31, 2010


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