In this video from ReasonTV Nick Gillespie talks about air traffic delays.
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Your Flight Has Been Delayed …And it’s Washington’s Fault Reason TV Nick Gillespie Nick: Don’t you hate it when you get to the airport on time, the weathers fine but your flight is delayed because of air traffic gridlock. Male: Stuck on the ground. Female: Officially late more than 92% of the time. Male: Passengers spent the next 6 hours on that Jet. Nick: How could air traffic gridlock cause delays when there’s so much empty sky for planes to fly in? Here’s the problem. Robert: The air traffic control system in the United States today is technologically obsolete. Nick: Robert W Pool Jr. is Director of Transportation Studies at Reason Foundation. Robert: This model is basically the same model we’ve been using since the beginning of air travel. Nick: Back then they would write down the flight info and put it on one of these little white blocks and move the blocks around that’s really how air traffic controllers kept track of planes in the sky. Male: An important and familiar part o f this crew is the smiling hostess or stewardess. Nick: Social norms were just as old fashioned as the technology. Male: You must be healthy single and between the age of 21 and 28. Nick: At least delays weren’t so bad because there weren’t that many planes flying. Since then air traffic has increased by about 3,000%, hostesses are now flight attendants who can be men or women of any age and how about those old white blocks, have they been computerized? Nope they’re still used today. Robert: You wouldn’t believe how backward the technology is. Today we have radar but we’ve had radars since the 1950s as the means that tells the controller where the plane is but it’s not very precise it’s only updated about ones every 12 seconds and it’s 500 miles an hour a plane can go quite a ways in that time. Nick: The technology the federal aviation administration or FAA uses to navigate 200 million dollar airliners is less advanced than the GPS technology we use to navigate by 20,000 dollar cars. Robert: The system can’t handle as many planes as it could as we had a more precise information in real time about where they up are. Nick: Air travel is increasing so inspect our creepy old system to stick you with even more delays in the future. We can avoid that fate with better technology that would allow us to fly more planes and do it safely so why can’t the government bring the system into the 21st century? Male: Welcome to the John Martha John’s Town Cambria county airport with a 7 million dollar air traffic control tower of 14 million dollar hanger and an 18 million dollar runway. Nick: The problem is how politicians spend money. Robert: This is the John Martha Airport at 10:30 in the morning there is nobody here. Nick: It seems like the Pennsylvania airport attracts more reporters than passengers. Male: Even so the airport was just awarded another 800,000 in federal stimulus money to repave an alternate runway. Nick: So much groupy over this porkstravaganza but Congressman John Martha is proud of his airport. Male: Martha’s earmarking of grants for his airport at John’s Town is a you know a classic example of the excess that congress does. Nick: Maybe the only way to get the politics out of our air traffic system is to take the system away from the politicians. Some say we should let a corporation manage the skies. Male: People are talking about running our air traffic control system like a big private corporation. That means putting profits before people. Nick: The air traffic controllers union runs adds criticizing the proposal and to many it sounds like far out free market idea to have a private company running inter navigation system but it turns out Canada disagrees. Male: Nav Canada is the private company that runs Canada’s air navigation system. The second biggest in the world. Nick: Here in Canada folks often take pride in their nations lavish government programs. Yet Canadians allow Nav Canada a private a company to
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