Thousands Of Airport Delays In Wake Of Sequestration

Earlier this week we warned travelers to expect delays as sequestration cuts hit airports, and now the numbers are in: according to a news release from FlightStats.com, nearly 1,000 flights have been canceled and there have been more than 18,200 flight delays since the Federal Aviation Administration began facing the spending cuts on Sunday.

Airports with the highest percentages of delays yesterday were LaGuardia Airport in New York, Denver International Airport in Colorado, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and Newark Liberty International Airport, also in New York.

Data from the flight tracking website shows there were 207 flights canceled and 4,842 delays on Sunday, when the furloughs began. Those cancellations cascaded into Monday, when there were 404 canceled flights and 7,027 delays. Yesterday, the numbers were slightly lower, at 385 canceled flights and 6,396 delays. Hopefully this last set of data means airports are getting things under control, but for now the only advice we can give is to check each flight status and ensure you leave plenty of time to get through airport security.

[Photo credit: Flickr user _ambrown]

Expect Delays As Sequestration Cuts Hit Airports

Automatic spending cuts began hitting the Federal Aviation Administration on Sunday, meaning travelers should be prepared for longer security lines and lengthier waits at airports as things get sorted out.

According to NYC Aviation, delays of up to an hour were cited in and around New York on Sunday night, with both John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport reporting delays due to “staffing.” Already this morning, several flights are seeing lengthy delays, including the shuttle services up and down the East Coast.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting the FAA has warned, “travelers should expect delays averaging as much as 50 minutes per flight this week because of fewer air traffic controllers in towers.” But don’t worry too much: no sector of air space will go without controller guidance. Just be sure to check flight statuses before you set off to the airport, and allow plenty of time to get through security – lines are expected to be slow-moving as Transportation Security Administration personnel have been furloughed, too.

[Photo credit: Flickr user bmhkim]

FAA To Relax Rules On In-Flight Electronic Use

Here’s some good news for air travelers: The New York Times is reporting the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may soon loosen its rules around the use of electronics during takeoff and landing.

The change, however, will not affect cellphone use. Instead, it applies to reading devices such as iPads and Kindles.

Anonymous employees at an industry group the FAA set up last year told the news outlet the governmental agency is under tremendous pressure to either allow use of these types of devices, or provide significant evidence why they cannot be used. According to multiple sources, there is no proof these types of devices affect a plane’s avionics.

According to the report, the group has been meeting with key companies, including Amazon and the Consumer Electronics Association, since January. It’s likely the FAA could make an announcement about the relaxed rules by the end of the year.

The group also told The New York Times that the FAA hopes to replace multiple regulations with a single, concise set.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill said she planned to hold the agency accountable by introducing legislation surrounding the new rules.

“So it’s OK to have iPads in the cockpit; it’s OK for flight attendants – and they are not in a panic – yet it’s not OK for the traveling public,” Senator McCaskill told The New York Times in a phone interview. “A flying copy of ‘War and Peace’ is more dangerous than a Kindle.”

[Via: Mashable]

[Photo credit: Flickr user Don Fulano]

New Aviation Technology Brings Safer Travel Today, Looks To Future

aviation technology

Commercial aviation technology has come a long way since its first flight in 1914, a 23-minute flight between St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida. Along the way, a great amount of the technology in today’s aircraft, enabling travelers to fly around the world, was developed right here in the United States. That tradition continues with some recent advances, in use right now or on their way, that address current needs and future concerns.

In Alaska, landing a commercial aircraft has its unique challenges. Mountains surround the airport in Juneau; Sitka’s small runway or Kodiak’s strip that ends at the side of a mountain have first officers watching the captains-only landings.

“The weather around here can be unpredictable,” said Clarissa Conley, the F.A.A. manager for Juneau International Airport in a New York Times report. “You name it, we’ve got it. And the terrain can make flying here pretty challenging, particularly when visibility is low.”

Addressing that specific issue of today, Alaska Airlines developed satellite guidance, a navigation technique that made landing at Alaska’s airports far safer and is a big part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s plan to modernize the nation’s air traffic system.Meanwhile, looking to the future, NASA is about to wrap up a three-week flight test of biofuels that began on February 28. Called the Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions (ACCESS) research, NASA is flying a DC-8 “flying laboratory” out of its Dryden facility, doing tests on biofuel that promise to collect data on emissions, engine performance and contrails. NASA does that by flying one of their Falcon jets as close as 300 feet behind the DC-8, mostly over restricted airspace.

But an AVWeb post notes NASA saying that “if weather conditions permit, the Falcon jet will trail commercial aircraft flying in the Southern California region, in coordination with air traffic controllers.” NASA does say that if following a commercial airliner, the distance will be ten miles between aircraft.

The NASA study and similar investigations by the European community hope to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and, in turn, reduce emissions by the commercial airline industry.




[Photo credit – Flickr user Niels van Eck]


Space Shuttle To Fly One Last Time

space shuttleWhile NASA’s space shuttle program may have ended, the orbiters and other artifacts are being prepared for their new homes and the lessons learned through the program’s history are being gathered for future generations. On its way to the National Air and Space Museum, the shuttle Discovery will make one last flight later this month.

On Tuesday, April 17, NASA’s 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) with space shuttle Discovery mounted atop will fly just 1500 feet above various parts of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

Expected to fly between 10 and 11 a.m. EDT near landmarks including the National Mall, Reagan National Airport, National Harbor and the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center, the SCA will land at Dulles International Airport upon completion of the flight.The exact route and timing of the flight, held in cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration, will depend on weather and operational constraints. Live coverage of the event can be seen on NASA Television and the agency’s web site.

Discovery completed 39 missions, spent 365 days in space, orbited the Earth 5,830 times and traveled 148,221,675 miles from its maiden flight, STS-41-D on August 30, 1984, until its final landing during STS-133 on March 9, 2011.

Discovery was the first of the three active space shuttles to be retired, followed by Endeavour on June 1, 2011. The final shuttle mission was completed with the landing of Atlantis on July 21, 2011, bringing about the end of the 30-year program.

New Space Race As Shuttle Program Ends


[Flickr photo via NASA Goddard Photo and Video]