Clinton, FAA, Airlines Unveil New Plan to Reduce Weather- Related Flight DelaysAired March 10, 2000 - 1:01 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, if you've ever spent hours sitting in an airport terminal, waiting for the weather to clear, this will be welcome news. President Clinton, government transportation officials and airline executives have unveiled a plan to reduce weather-related flight delays.
CNN national correspondent Gene Randall explains.
GENE RANDALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Citing last summer, a true nightmare for air-travelers in this country, President Clinton said, if we can't do anything about the weather, there should be better ways to cope with it.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we can guide the space shuttle into orbit and back, we ought to be able to guide planes around thunderstorms safely. We can do a better job. Starting next summer with the help of everyone here today, we will.
RANDALL: Last summer, tens of thousands of passengers a day were delayed. Many spent hours waiting to take off. About 70 percent of the time, the problem was bad weather.
So, starting Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration will put into effect a new program it developed with the airlines, pilots, air traffic controllers, the military and others to help deal with Mother Nature.
JANE GARVEY, FAA ADMINISTRATOR: Safety is first and foremost. So that will never be compromised. But having said that, we know, with the number of delays that we saw last year, that we recognized quite straightforwardly that there was more that we needed to do. And that's really what this partnership is all about.
RANDALL: Under the plan, the FAA and the airlines would use the same weather-monitoring systems with more frequent weather forecasts to determine how best to deal with storms. A national database will make it easier to reroute planes around bad weather. And it will expand the use of military airspace off the East Coast to allow alternate north-south routings during such periods.
The key, aviation experts say, is a new level of cooperation. DARRYL JENKINS, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: There are joint decision makers in a process. And this is the first time that we've really seen the industry and the government working together in a collaborative manner to make decisions.
RANDALL (on camera): As part of its new plan, the FAA is going online with a Web site to allow air-travelers to check on airport conditions and delays around the country. President Clinton says better communication will help pilots and passengers alike learn if they can expect a delay that is measured in minutes or in hours.
Gene Randall, CNN, the White House.
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