The *real* problem
Two weeks ago I was on a plane going from Washington Reagan to LaGuardia. It was a clear, warm, windless day. We pushed back shortly after 10 a.m., only to find ourselves in a holding bay at the far end of the airport, hit with a 90-minute takeoff delay. Ninety minutes' wait, for a flight that would barely last 40. When the controller was asked about the reason, he responded dryly: "The usual. Volume."Read the full column... (You may need to view a brief ad if you don't subscribe to the site.)
Volume. What he meant is that the Northeast corridor had become saturated -- now an almost daily occurrence, even in good weather. Throw in storms or low visibilities, and waits can extend for hours. Airlines will tell you this is an ATC issue. But is it? True, the en route sectors of airspace could be better utilized, for instance by taking greater advantage of GPS technology and reducing the horizontal distance limits between aircraft. But in the end, you can squeeze only as many arrivals into and out of a major airport as its runways will allow. The airspace issue ultimately becomes an airport issue.