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Embed code for: Its blue sky and sunny here at Orlando but my flight to Newark is delayed
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Explanation of what can cause your flight to be delayed.
Its blue sky and sunny here at Orlando, but my flight to Newark is delayed. Why is that? This situation can occur due to several reasons but this paper will outline one of the more common causes. A small thunderstorm develops over southern New Jersey near the Delaware river. This section of airspace is controlled by the Washington enroute center, specifically Area 1. There are two primary jet routes here (see illustration) with Newark on the left side and LaGuardia on the right. Further East is the Kennedy flow and underneath all of them is the two eastern channels into Philadelphia. The ripple effect then begins. FAA Traffic Management will order short term ground stops for all airports within a specified range that have scheduled flights to EWR and LGA that have not yet departed. This action prevents aircraft from departing until the ground stop is lifted. They must take this action because the number of aircraft already in the air must now fly through a single channel instead of the normal two channels. This effectively reduces the specific airspace capacity by 50%. After controllers “clean up” the deviating aircraft, order is restored by accepting a single line of airplanes going to LGA and EWR, using EWR’s channel, and bypassing the thunderstorm. Once the holding inventory of aircraft is close to being resolved, traffic management will lift the ground stops but will still need to reduce traffic destined to these two airports by about half for as long as the weather is forecasted to remain in the area. Generally this means a ground delay program or GDP. The GDP is a computer model that will assign specific departure times for all aircraft scheduled to go to the affected airports. There are many more complexities and options in play for traffic management to handle this situation but will not be discussed in this paper. Prior to the thunderstorm developing there is a steady flow of aircraft on the Newark, LaGuardia, and Kennedy channels. These aircraft are all descending from high altitude and lined up for each airport generally 15 miles in trail for each line. When the thunderstorm develops, in this case over the LaGuardia channel, all the airplanes in line must turn left into the line of airplanes going into Newark. This mass “deviation” of flight paths causes the controllers to stop the descents on certain aircraft to maintain separation and order the feeding sectors to go into hold for all airborne aircraft approaching the area. So your flight in Orlando was scheduled to depart for Newark at 5:10pm on a sunny Florida afternoon. At 3:50pm a small thunderstorm developed under the route into LaGuardia. At 4:25pm your Orlando departure flight was ground stopped. At 4:52pm, the ground stop was lifted and your flight was assigned a new GDP departure time of 6:05pm. This scenario covers just one thunderstorm physically residing in just a couple of air traffic radar sectors. Imagine dozens of convective systems nationwide on any mid-summer afternoon and you begin to appreciate the complex functions of the air traffic control system. Thousands of controllers, hundreds of traffic management specialists are required to operate this system. Think of all the personnel that would not be needed if the Tube Transport System was operational. Your Orlando “flight” would have left MCO at 5:10pm and entered the tube to ATL. Your transport would then enter the Atlanta tube transfer facility and egress into the tube to EWR. You would then travel through the thunderstorm in a vacuum tube that could care less it was being rained on, and arrive on time onto the ramp at Newark airport. Not to mention all of those airborne aircraft that had to hold, wasting jet fuel while flying circles in the sky. The complex air traffic and commercial airline systems of today have become obsolete. We don’t have to travel that way anymore. DeHart / @TubeTransport