The headlines from the national media today were apocalyptic when word came that one of the FAA’s aging computer systems had crashed, warning of massive delays around the country. The problem was a computer system where flight plans for the airlines are entered. They had to be entered by hand this morning.
The truth? It was no big deal outside of places like Atlanta and New York, which are usually subject to massive delays even when the computers are zipping along normally.
In Minneapolis, between 8 and 9, the “massive” delays averaged 14 minutes. An hour later, the average departure delay was 8 minutes. By late morning, flights were leaving an average of three minutes early. Shortly before noon, the average arriving flight was getting in 12 minutes early.
Here’s an animation I made of the nation’s airline traffic snapshots from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Not sure what it signifies other than the air traffic controllers were “pushing tin.”
You can probably see the problem of these sorts of things, however. In the morning, everybody is heading to the East. At some point, everyone has to head West again. That’s likely when more significant delays will show up.
BTW, I recommend putting that animation in full-screen mode.