United States

FAA Rolls Out Text Messaging System To Limit Tarmac Delays

A new text messaging system is now being used at South Florida airports to help get travelers off the ground quicker and limit those frustrating delays when flying out of Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport.

Before take-off, pilots were getting their route of flight, which is their road map in the sky through an old school radio transmission.

Now, an air traffic controller sends what amounts to a text message straight to the cockpit. It’s called the flight clearance. Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration and UPS showed off the new system.

“It comes across kind of like a text message. So, the pilots get the text message, accept it and they put it in the system and once it’s been accepted, they can taxi and go,” explained UPS Chief Pilot R.E. “Bud” Potts.

Faster service is paramount since MIA made it to the top of the list when it comes to delays at major airports in the U.S. back in November.

Monday, the Miami-Dade Aviation Department and its director Emilio Gonzalez were delighted with the new system.

“Well, it will mean less delays. It will mean less loiter time for an aircraft as a pilot communicates with the tower if there are any changes and it will also be more efficient in the air, so this is a win-win for everybody,” said Gonzalez.

The FAA says since rolling out the program about 6 months ago, 5,000 flights a month in South Florida have used it. The time saved when the weather is bad was 11 minutes on every flight.

“So, when you are sitting in line with a bunch of other airplanes and you are hoping to get off with the data com system we are putting in place your aircraft has the opportunity to get out of that line and get in front of everybody else,” said James Eck, who’s with the FAA NextGen.

In addition to the speed and efficiency of the new system, it also adds another level of safety.

“It will allow for a more safe operation for everyone involved. Less chance of errors, less chance of flights going off course,” explained Billy Kisseadoo, MIA Air Traffic Controllers.

When it comes to keeping time, transportation numbers show Miami International Airport is doing better, dropping 17 minutes off its average delay since texting instead of talking.

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