If you’ve taken an international flight in the last two years you’ll know the experience isn’t necessarily as seamless as it was pre-pandemic, especially in Europe and the US.
A record number of flights were delayed or cancelled in the US last year and, according to a recent report from the FAA, this isn’t expected to improve soon. The organisation predicts a 45 per cent increase in flight delays over the Northern Hemisphere summer.
Staffing shortages, construction at major US airports and growing demand for travel were given as reasons for the disruption.
However, United Airlines’ former executive chairman Oscar Munoz pushed back on this explanation, saying it isn’t the full story.
“If you dig beneath the surface a little bit more, probably from my opinion, the biggest issue that we have in America is broader infrastructure, but specifically in air travel, air traffic control systems,” he told Fox Business.
Munoz said the US had the “most outdated” and “obsolete system in almost the entire world”, adding 60 countries had better ways of controlling air traffic.
Despite how it seems to travellers, a single delay isn’t an isolated event; it affects all following and surrounding flights, which all run on a super tight schedule.
“To stay even safer, we just don’t let planes up in the air. If there’s any kind of disruption whatsoever, travel or otherwise, everything just gets slowed down and pushed back.”
What does air traffic control do?
An air traffic controller communicates with pilots and helps them keep a safe distance from other flights from preflight to landing. This is done by using a system of computers, radars and other technology to collect information about weather, flight paths and other important information.
Several steps are involved in air traffic control: preflight, takeoff, departure, in the air, descent, approach and landing.