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An Air-Traffic Upgrade to Improve Travel by Plane

A good NYT article about the impending ADS-B deployment ( Más...

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I am a retired ATC from SoCal Approach (2005). I also did simulation modeling of airports and airspace for 9+ years under contract to the FAA. Discussions about NextGen and ADS-B often tout them as the solution for everything from safety in remote environments to delay at O'Hare. And, of course, the FAA does nothing to correct what is in fact a gross misinterpretation, at least in terms of delay.

All of the work that I did as an operations analyst took place prior to 9/11, so I was dealing with demand levels that were near their peak. We looked at different strategies for increasing airspace efficiency by, for example, moving the cornerpost fixes serving Chicago ( formerly Kubbs, Plant, Plano & Farmm - now Story, Bearz, Plano & Krena) from the 45's to the 90's. Which was a good idea, by the way, at least in terms of airborne delay but had no impact whatsoever on that old bugaboo, AIRPORT CAPACITY.

The overwhelming majority of air carrier delay in the United States is simply a matter of the airlines trying to put too many aircraft on the same piece of concrete at the same time. PERIOD. One of the schedules I worked with at JFK had 73 departures scheduled in one hour whereas their maximum departure rate was about 45 per hour and that assumes ZERO ARRIVALS.

We also looked at different ways to handle arrivals. At LAX, which has a large percentage of lighter aircraft, we looked at segregating them to a single complex, putting the big iron on the other. That would permit the controller to keep the final tighter on both arrival runways. That also was a good idea but we never found a good (in ATC talk that means safe) way to accomplish the crossover. And even if we had, the delay during peak periods was just about as bad as it ever was.

Bottom Line: ADS-B will have no impact whatsoever on airports where demand exceeds airport (runway) capacity.

Here is an informative blurb on O'Hare if you are interested.


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