This week’s winner for f’d up issue of the week is actually something behind the scenes.  Let me paint the picture, using my own horror stories from the past weekend, and you’ll understand what I mean.

Chicago O’Hare. Famous for delays and such, right? Move in a little bit of weather, and one of the worlds busiest international airports comes to a crawl. Same with Atlanta. Same with many other airports.  Why?  Because it turns out that most airlines don’t use the most accurate system for takeoffs and landings.  You know that TomTom or Garmin hand held GPS system that you can get with car rentals?  Yeah – that’s more advanced than some of the planes that you fly on.

Airlines know this, as do airports.  Alaska Airlines, Delta, and UPS all fly planes that are GPS capable, and have for quite some time.  Back in 2007, there was an article in the New York Times about what Alaska, Delta, and UPS are doing.  Two of the most telling statistics in the story are:

At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta Air Lines said its jets take off an average of 10 minutes after pushing back from the gate — three minutes faster than in previous years.

Of the approximately 3,600 flights the airline operated in and out of Juneau last year, 754 could not have been tried in years past.

We can make air travel safer, have fewer delays, and save the airlines BILLIONS, but it’s going to take the leadership of the tech savvy airlines, and a mandate by the FAA to get this done.

The reason I bring this up, of course, is that I was one of those people stuck going in to Chicago O’Hare this past weekend.  And even though I was flying Alaska Airlines, without full-implementation of the GPS system by all airlines flying into O’Hare, we were delayed 3 hours.  Nice, eh?  But TOTALLY avoidable.  So that’s why the slow moving behemoth FAA and the travel delays that it’s 50 year old legacy system causes earn the F’d Up Issue of the Week.

By walterh

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