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New FAA Technology Aims to Speed Takeoffs of Planes Idling on Runways

Aviation regulator plans to roll out tools meant to cut down delays before departure

The top U.S. aviation regulator is betting a new suite of software will help ease a longtime frustration for airline passengers: being stuck on a plane that is waiting to get to a runway for takeoff.

The Federal Aviation Administration plans to deploy in the next several years new software at airports that is meant to make it easier to calculate when a plane can travel out to a runway and depart, agency officials said Tuesday.

At Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, the system reduced delays by more than 900 hours in all during a four-year testing period, or an average of 15 minutes of wait time each for around 3,600 departing flights, according to the FAA. Carriers also saved on fuel and lowered carbon emissions by avoiding idling, the agency said.

The FAA plans to incorporate the new tools into a system for managing plane traffic at airports the agency had developed as part of its efforts to modernize air transportation, officials said.

Excerpt from WSJ
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What Science Knows Now About the Risk of Covid-19 Transmission on Planes

New research has uncovered when chances are higher, including during meal service. Overall risks appear to remain relatively low, but newer variants may change that equation.

Fliers have yearned for reliable data on the risks of air travel since the pandemic began. Recent research on Covid-19 transmission on flights suggests that airlines could adopt new policies to better protect their passengers.

Scientists have found a sharp increase in possible spread during in-flight meal service when everyone has masks off. They’ve also learned more about the importance of precautions during boarding and deplaning.

The chances of viral spread aboard planes remain very low. But papers published in medical journals suggest they may not be as low as suggested earlier in the pandemic.

“It’s still, at this point, safe to travel if you take proper precautions,” says Mark Gendreau, chief medical officer at Beverly Hospital near Boston and an expert in aviation medicine. “I do think it could be safer.”

Excerpt from WSJ
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Flying Taxis’ Best Ride Is to the Helicopter Market

Cabdrivers don’t need to worry about being replaced by flying cars. Helicopter makers might need to a little bit.

Vertical Aerospace, a British startup devoted to the development of electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicles, or eVTOL, has just received a preorder for 25 aircraft plus an option for 25 more from Bristow Group, a U.S.-owned operator of civil helicopters, the air-taxi company told The Wall Street Journal.

Vertical, which in June struck a deal with a blank-check investment vehicle to go public, already has announced preorders and options for 1,050 vehicles. Buyers include American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and plane lessor Avolon Holdings, which said Tuesday that it had already placed 250 of them with Gol and Grupo Comporte, a Brazilian airline and transport operator, respectively.

Excerpt from WSJ

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Southwest Airlines Cancels Over 1,800 Flights

Weekend snarl is the latest difficulty for the carrier after it struggled over the summer

Southwest Airlines Co. canceled more than 1,800 flights over the weekend, citing bad weather and air-traffic-control problems in Florida that rippled throughout its operation.

The airline canceled over 1,000 flights Sunday, or 28% of its schedule, according to FlightAware, a flight-tracking website. Over 500 flights were delayed.

The problems started Friday evening, when severe weather in Florida prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to impose an air-traffic-management program, resulting in a large number of cancellations and leaving customers and crew members out of place, an airline spokesperson said Saturday.

Southwest scrambled to reset its network Saturday, canceling more than 800 flights that day, or 24% of its operation, according to FlightAware.

Excerpt from WSJ
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