FAA Could Ground Taxpayers From lost baggage to sitting on the runway for hours to cancellations, flying has become its own adventure sport. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today released a ten year-$11.5 billion plan aimed at making flying seem less like a marathon and more like a walk in the park.
Air Flight Delays Worsening
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How bad are airport delays? Last year marked the second consecutive year of record delays and cancellations. A traveler in the U.S. had a one-in-three chance of a late flight arrival. All predictions are that these problems will only get worse.
Given the FAA’s track record, some skepticism towards the agency’s new plan is in order. The FAA has faced modernization and maintenance problems before and has not delivered. In the 1980’s the FAA unveiled ambitious upgrade plans, which included as its centerpiece the Advanced Automation System (AAS), a comprehensive technological improvement to help air traffic controllers. After extensive project delays and spiraling costs, the $2 billion AAS program was canceled in 1994 for failing to meet expectations.
The new modernization project is larger than the AAS project and a General Accounting Office (GAO) report shows that many concerns remain. The report, issued last year, says the FAA has shown little improvement in areas that led to the AAS failure.
The GAO found that the FAA needs continuing Congressional oversight because when the agency undertakes an initiative it does not pay attention to comprehensive planning and oversight and the complexity of developing and implementing new systems. This has led to cost overruns, delays, and performance shortfalls.
To reduce delays the plan proposes using satellites instead of radar to track planes, allowing pilots and controllers to route planes outside fixed jetways, new equipment to detect storms earlier giving controllers more time to reroute planes, and allowing planes to fly closer together. The FAA proposal also calls for increasing airline traffic by 30 percent.
The agency is seeking additional runways for 15 major airports. But community groups protesting runway construction have grounded plans in the past and there is little to show that feelings in those communities will change.
There is no doubt that the FAA has a massive mountain to climb. In fact, many within the agency were cautious of making too big of a deal of today’s announcement for fear that if it fails the agency would again find itself under a dark cloud.
Most people hope the FAA can complete its plan to increase safety and that air traffic can be increased without delays. Accountability must be a top priority, so that the agency does not spend money on a plan that will never be finished. Otherwise, air travel will remain the grueling marathon it has become.
If you would like more information, contact Keith Ashdown at (202)-546-8500 ext. 110
or by email
at email@example.com. TCS is at www.taxpayer.net
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