May 23, 2007
On-Time Arrival Needed for Funds to Modernize U.S. Airspace
FAA plans for preventing summer delays welcome, but Congress holds key
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pledge to expand air traffic programs to help meet summer air traffic demand is encouraging, but preventing flight delays in the long-term depends on Congress providing adequate funding to modernize U.S. airspace.
“Air travel delays are already in the summer forecast and the number of flights will continue to climb,” said Capt. John Prater, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA). “There is no time for Congress to delay in committing to long-term funding for improving the nation’s airspace.”
ALPA has pressed Congress for years to provide the financial foundation to modernize the nation’s air transportation system, not only to meet current air traffic demand, but to build a safe and efficient system for the future. Modernization efforts must include upgrading automation systems to allow FAA air traffic managers and airlines to enhance the collaborative process to deal more efficiently with weather and other unforeseen air traffic issues. Only through modernization can the full potential of the collaborative process be achieved, including much-needed improvements in capacity and fuel efficiency. An enhanced collaborative process could also reduce aircraft taxi time, which will help to move flights through airports faster and more safely.
The reduced pace of modernization has resulted in today’s announcement of the introduction of some new restrictions that appear to be a one-size-fits-all response to high-density air traffic bottlenecks. This approach could force airlines to delay or cancel flights. The static restrictions could also mean that airlines are forced to use indirect routes that will compromise fuel efficiency. ALPA asserts that Congress must provide funding so that the FAA can pursue traffic management solutions that leverage new technology to more effectively tie together flight planning capabilities of both airlines and FAA air traffic managers.
“We know that these delays are symptoms of an airspace system that is stretched to its limit,” said Prater. “The good news is that the solutions already exist to meet the challenge, now and in the future. The passengers, crews, and cargo that depend on our nation’s air transportation system need Congress to deliver an on-time arrival for funds to make those improvements a reality.”
Founded in 1931, ALPA represents 60,000 pilots at 40 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at http://www.alpa.org.
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ALPA CONTACTS: Linda Shotwell, Molly Martin, 703-481-4440