So it's summer vacation season, and I'm flying home on a trans-Atlantic flight headed for
When I got home, I found out. According to a recent article in the
So the pilot flies the plane miles out of its way, burning hundreds of gallons of jet fuel and eating up extra flight time, in order to be handed off from control tower to control tower, on various radio frequencies, stair-stepping its way into a long descent to the right airport. When you're over the ocean, you're off the radar. That explains the crazy flight pattern over as much land as possible on my trans-Atlantic flight. The airlines may sell you a ticket for a "direct" flight, but there are no direct flights. They don't have the navigation system to do that.
In fact, our family car, a mid-range
Right now, 15,000 air traffic controllers guide 50,000 flights a day, according to the AP. The number of passengers traveling on U.S. airlines is predicted to grow from 737 million to over 1 billion annually over the next decade. More of us will be flying more frequently, and that's an opportunity for the airlines. I'd bet there are a lot of consumers like me who'd be willing, again, to pay a little more in exchange for shorter trips, more convenience, and a safer journey. But there's a problem. With airlines, the government has everything to do with it.
Sounds like a no-brainer, but the obstacles are huge. The program will cost up to
So why is the government in charge?
Most taxpayers and air travelers would prefer to have the airlines on the leading edge of technology, not government bureaucrats. Wouldn't it be smarter for the
There may be ways to form investment pools or even government-backed loans for private investors to fund such a system, so that the
Lead, follow, or get out of the way: Right now the
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Copyright © 2011 U.S. News & World Report
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