northeast flight patterns

For those in the Northeast Corridor, the WSJ explains why NYC’s three area airports suck so hard:

In 2008, the FAA imposed restrictions on airline scheduling at Newark, similar to limits placed on New York’s other two major airports, Kennedy and La Guardia. At Newark, airlines can’t schedule more than 81 “operations”—takeoffs and landings combined—per hour. But because airlines schedule to the maximum limit, any delay during the day pushes the next hour over its capacity limit, then the next and the next. There’s little ability for the airport to catch up unless airlines cancel flights, which they have been doing more often, sacrificing regional airlines and their small-jet flights for takeoff and landing slots for larger jets with more passengers.

And earlier in the same article, now it’s not just New York’s airspace that’s the bottleneck:

Much of the bottleneck is in Washington, D.C. Both flights out of Newark have to fly through heavily congested airspace in the Washington area, Delta says, where much of the traffic headed into and out of the Northeast meshes together, creating a choke point for the nation’s air travel.

The reason the limits were imposed is that air traffic controllers are using decades-old equipment that requires more padding between flights in a given airspace to avoid collisions. If this weren’t a government operation, Mother Jones would have done eighteen stories on ATC’s negligence and how it’s killing babies, puppies, and immigrant mothers. And Matt Taibbi would’ve been full of anti-capitalist butthurt to boot.

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