6 hour flight delay
This isn't actually big news these days, lots of flights are delayed. This story is interesting because you get to hear a bunch of the announcements as they're made:
I'm not generally sympathetic to unions, but I like reading some of the air traffic controller union-member blogs. I'm glad I don't fly much because I think the system really is fucked up.
July 16th, 2007 1:35pm
That does look like a conchord.
The text lists 7 planes, but there are eight on the runway, and I don't think they are in the order listed.
Still, kinda neat. Just would be better if I knew what was what.
July 16th, 2007 2:18pm
From right to left
707 - 4 engine
717 - which is really an MD-80 or something, they renamed it after Boeing bought McDonald-Douglas. 2 engines at the back.
727 - 2 engines at the back.
737 - 2 engine, winglets
747 - obvious...
777 - I'm amazed at how much bigger the 777 is than the 757 and 767.
July 16th, 2007 2:22pm
Ward, have you read enough to understand what happened to the FAA that the leadership is so bad?
Yes, even simple direct flights feel like going to the dentist these days. They are just so unpredictable. I think flights are seriously late a lot more often than they used to be, even on the West coast where there is almost never a weather problem.
July 16th, 2007 2:30pm
The economics have caught up with them. There is no slack in the air travel system anymore. Any minor glitch has repercussions way out of line with size of the original problem.
Example: Northwest flight leaving RDU -- the ground crew overfilled the freshwater tank, causing the bathroom to flood. This delayed our departure by 2 hours while they vacuumed up the spilled water, and inspected the equipment bay underneath to make sure none of it had shorted out anything important.
This means that we were ~2 hours late getting into our destination, which meant that the people waiting for our plane were also 2 hours late to *their* destinations. If any of them were making connecting flights (extremely likely, given the hub & spoke design of air routes), they're stuck in that airport until they can get another flight.
Which is also unlikely, because all the planes are being run at/near capacity... empty seats being extemely expensive.
July 16th, 2007 2:38pm
Oh. The big one thrown into the middle threw me. I thought bigger numbers always meant bigger.
July 16th, 2007 2:47pm
Related to the tail-end (get it?) of xampl's post... They will often delay the connecting flights when arrivals need to make the connection are delayed. So the fun multiplies!
July 16th, 2007 2:49pm
The FAA is a huge, blundering bureaucracy.
Personally, I think it makes sense to run air traffic control as a government service - there are so many safety issues that it seems like they're bound to conflict with turning a profit.
Note that privatizing another part of what the FAA used to do (flight services - mostly dealing with smaller planes, providing weather info, accepting flight plans and entering them into the system, other things I don't understand) out to Lockheed hasn't worked well. Service is way down and Lockheed is saying they need more money.
The stated goal of air traffic control is (still, I think) to provide "Safe, Orderly, Expeditious" traffic control. As every controller who writes blogs has pointed out, there are lots of situations where "safe and orderly" will mean doing something that's not "customer-oriented" (customers being airlines, who want to get their planes through fast) and not necessarily cost-effective for the same customers.
On top of everything, the FAA has bungled every single technology upgrade for the past umpteen years. They all go way over-budget, are ridiculously late, and often don't work. For some reason, they're allowed to "re-baseline" their projects: every couple years they re-work the timelines for the projects and then start over. "We rebaselined that one 2 years ago and now we're on-target for the new dates and costs."
July 16th, 2007 3:01pm
Here's a more detailed (and more accurate) description of the problems. I haven't paid close attention to this site, but I think it's pretty even-handed in general. I'm sure it's not a pro-union site.
July 16th, 2007 5:40pm
"They will often delay the connecting flights when arrivals need to make the connection are delayed."
No they don't. They'll delay a connecting flight when the AIRCRAFT is late, simply due to the laws of physics, but if the passengers are late, they're scrued.
[US only. I understand at Heathrow they do try to hold flights for delayed connections, mostly because Heathrow is an unholy zoo]
July 16th, 2007 11:47pm
And with respect to holding passengers hostage, I fully support an FAA rule that works just like crew rest - if the passengers have been on the aircraft for more than three hours without going anywhere, and the aircraft is not actively taxiing for a takeoff pattern, it goes to a gate, period. Heavy fines on both the airline *and* the airport if they hit the 3:30 mark without the aircraft being at a gate.
July 16th, 2007 11:53pm
Do you fly Southwest? I've been on several flights of theirs where they announced something to the effect of 'to our passengers making a connection to X and concerned about our delayed arrival, we have been informed that they are going to hold the aircraft for you'.
Granted, the explanation that the aircraft on the other end is delayed anyway is more cynically believable so it rings truer to me. But I have also boarded only to sit there for thirty minutes while we waited for four people to get on that came from a connecting flight. Probably airline personnel...
July 17th, 2007 5:48pm