Chapter 7: The FAA and the US Domestic Civil Aviation System
In the year 2000, more than twice the number of passengers boarded flights in the United States than in 1978, the year in which the domestic airline industry was deregulated. But as the number of passengers increased, so did the levels of public dissatisfaction about flight delays and lost economic productivity. President Clinton, echoing the ‘widespread passenger frustration and anger’ revealed alarming figures showing a system that was all too frequently in gridlock. Flight delays had increased by more than 58 per cent between 1995-2000, while cancellations rose by 68 per cent over the same period.’ During the four summer months of 2000, over 160,000 flights were delayed, on average by 45 minutes each. The constituent parts of the industry started to point fingers at each other, while some interest groups, representing smaller cities that had lost connections to the major centres, blamed airline deregulation for their woes. However, the malfunctions in the system were more probably due to the failure of the organisation responsible for operating the aviation infrastructure, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), to adapt to rapidly changing conditions, than to any other factor. The FAA resides within the Department of Transportation (DOT). The controllers employed in the air traffic control system (atc), which accounts for 45 per cent of the FAA’s budget, decide on the type of services that are to be provided and on the facilities needed to perform these services. The US commercial airports are, almost without exception, operated and owned either by the...
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