Thursday, July 25, 2024
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US Airlines Implore Transportation Officials To Do More To Prevent Delays & Cancelations

Summary Shortage of national air traffic controllers is causing delays and cancellations for commercial airlines.
FAA is recruiting and training new air traffic controllers, but they are still far from filling the gap.
FAA is establishing a panel of experts to address staffing challenges and safety issues in the air traffic control sector.
Airlines across the United States are raising their concerns with transportation officials concerning the challenges faced with a shortage of national air traffic controllers, the impact of hobby aircraft, and staffing schedules across peak travel times. These combined can lead to insufficient resources and effects on commercial airlines and their schedules.
American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Southwest are being represented by Airlines for America, voicing their concerns to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, stressing:
“(To) take all possible actions to find the appropriate balance between commercial and private aviation traffic with the goal of minimizing delays and cancellations for the traveling public.”
Photo: Markus Mainka | Shutterstock
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3,000 ATC short
The FAA has advised that they are trying to do as much as possible to recruit, train, and deploy new air traffic controllers to where they are needed. 1,500 new air traffic controllers have been trained so far this year, which is still a far cry from the 3,000 required to fill the gap in the sector.
Data reviewed by the FAA highlighted that from December 20th to 27th, scheduled aircraft operations were delayed 77% due to volume, 19.1% due to adverse weather conditions, and 0.9% due to inadequate FAA staffing.
Related Air Traffic Controller Shortage Is Damaging Aviation Safety Witnesses at the senate hearing cautioned that ongoing ATC staffing issues could lead to further near-miss incidents across the US.
Buttigieg and the FAA have made it clear that the improvement in staffing numbers is a key priority, with reports of some staff across the nation who are working extended hours, or six-day weeks, to cover the current shortages. While there may be unrest in the control tower, it is worth remembering that, according to the United States Secretary of Transportation, the US is on track to have the lowest number of flight cancellations in the last five years.
A panel to review ATC practices
Just before Christmas, the FAA announced its intentions to establish a panel of experts to address fatigue, near-miss incidents, and mandatory overtime challenges within the sector. The three-member committee, led by Mark Rosekind, a sleep expert and past National Transportation Safety Board member, will begin work in January and provide their findings in around six weeks.
Photo: Denver International Airport
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Keeping the skies safe
Airspace in the United States is split up into 21 separate zones, with each one of those zones then divided into sectors. Within each zone are pockets of airspace, around 80 kilometers in diameter, referred to as TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control). The FAA has designed the air traffic control system around these TRACON divisions, with personnel assigned to patrol specific zones.
Controllers are always in touch with pilots, with communication between the ground and the pilot being absolutely essential. Trained pilots rely on this information significantly, even though they are trained to fly aircraft off instruments alone as a failsafe mechanism.
Photo: Gorodenkoff | Shutterstock
Read more about what it takes to be an air traffic controller here.



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