EMBRY RIDDLE UNIVERSITY
As airport delays continue to lengthen. The Air Transport Association reports that the amount of time per delay rose sharply over the last few years. However, the problem appears to be a mask, because a delay has become such a normal operational feature of the air traffic control system, airlines have simply built additional time into their flight schedules to accommodate it. Costly delays in the air traffic and airport system could soon move beyond a cost and an inconvenience to be a major breakdown of our air transportation system. Most major airlines operate with a hub and spoke route system or require quick turnaround times at gates. The efficiency of this system is entirely dependent on the ability to reliably and dependably schedule flights to arrive at and leave airports in relatively narrow windows of time. The uncertainty these delays create are occurring at the same time that today's economy requires better reliability and predictability. There are at least three significant and rising costs from a system which is approaching gridlock.
Given the delay and congestion problems that already exist, anticipated growth, without needed expansion of capacity in the air and on the ground, will simply reach a point at which it cannot be accommodated. Historically, the growth of aviation has outpaced overall economic growth. Every forecast of aviation activity predicts steady growth well into the next century. According to a U.S. Department of Transportation stud, U.S. domestic and international passengers have increased by 52% during 2006. For the next ten years the FAA forecasts that annual growth of revenue in passenger miles will average 4.2%. Total aircraft movements are also expected to dramatically rise.
Many people believe we are heading toward an airport congestion crisis. In reality, congestion...