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Capacity Report Spotlights Urgent Need for More Runways; Controllers Say They're Working with FAA to Improve System - (4/25/2001)

WASHINGTON – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association considers the Federal Aviation Administration’s report on capacity at the 31 busiest U.S. airports as further proof that the core problem of too many planes and too little concrete deserves the highest priority from government and the aviation community.

The FAA’s report on traffic volume and limits, which is being released today before the House Aviation Subcommittee, outlines in detail how controllers are meeting and often exceeding capacity at the busiest airports. According to the study, new technologies and procedures will increase capacity an average of five percent by 2010. But new runways, where feasible, increase capacity by 30-60 percent.

“We are doing all we can to solve this dilemma, working with the FAA on over 60 safety and technology programs to help improve our system and squeeze the remaining capacity out of the air,” NATCA President John Carr said. “The days of labeling our air traffic control system as ‘antiquated’ are over. Now it’s time to find a way to remove that label off of our airport infrastructure and runway capacity. We have a chance to make some historic progress.”

The FAA states that the report provides insight into the relationship between airline demand and airport capacity to help continue efforts to reduce congestion and delays and improve safety. “This report confirms to me that delays are most definitely caused by both weather and congestion on the ground – not in the air,” Carr said. “This should make it clear to air travelers that only concrete investments are going to truly make the system more efficient and responsive to their demands. By concrete, I mean back the trucks up and start pouring us some more runways – please.”

Controllers are committed to ensuring the U.S. system remains the safest, most sophisticated in the world. Carr said he is confident this type of capacity information can contribute to dialogue toward proactive solutions, replacing the finger-pointing and think-tank criticism of system management which has bogged down true progress in recent times.


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