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New Rules May Lessen Air Traffic Delays


It has been a summer of record delays at U.S. airports. But the Federal Aviation Administration recently announced plans to ease the problem. VOA's Paul Sisco has more.

The plan focuses on four airports ranked as the most delayed in the United States -- LaGuardia, JFK and Newark in the New York metropolitan area -- and Philadelphia International, also on the East Coast. Under the new design, planes formerly required to take off single file, will now fan out in different directions speeding up departures and using more airspace. The FAA says the plan will save airlines millions of dollars a year, mostly in fuel costs.

Marion Blakey, the FAA administrator reported, "The delays in the New York-New Jersey-Philadelphia region will be cut approximately 20 percent. That's tremendously important for anyone flying through and around that area."

The plan also is meant to reduce delays caused by bad weather. With more departure routes, pilots will have more flexibility to steer around storms. Implementing the plan will necessitate some retraining of air traffic controllers. And that concerns New York air traffic controller Dean Iacopelli. "The rubber band [pressure on air controllers] is about as tight as I have ever seen it, and I don't know how much longer it is going to go until it snaps."

The FAA says the plan will be fully implemented by 2011. Outgoing FAA administrator Blakey called on the airlines to take a hard look at their scheduling practices. Despite record flight delays this year, airline earnings improved strongly in 2007.

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