Sunday musings: Regional slang, time travel, reforming air traffic control

by Charlie Leocha on January 19, 2014

The variation on language across the country is amazing. As travelers, we sometimes are confused and, most of the time, take these language variations for granted. This video does a good job of exploring some of them. An infographic shows how the distance we can travel in a day has changed over time. And, a new study takes a hard look at our air traffic control system that is falling behind the rest of the world.

Rates_of_Travel

How far you could travel in 24 hours

At a time of year in which most of us are recovering from cramped flights, jet lag, and layovers, it’s easy to forget just how good humans have become at traveling distances that would have seemed virtually insurmountable a couple of hundred years ago. In fact, compared to our forebears, we travel so quickly and efficiently that we may as well be a race of transdimensional teleporters.

Case in point? Consider this interactive map from the University of Richmond. It puts into stark perspective just how long it would take you to travel from New York City to other points in the country between 1800 and 1930, a period defined by rapidly evolving transportation systems that spans from the horse-and-buggy to locomotive to automobile to airplane.

The state of air traffic control in the USA

In a groundbreaking new study published by the Hudson Institute, Reason Foundation founder and Director of Transportation Policy Bob Poole lays out the case for dramatically reforming air traffic control to fully take advantage of new technologies and modern management practices.

For something so important, would you be shocked to learn that air traffic control in practice has experienced very little change since the 1960s? Increasingly, policy makers are aware that this unfortunate status quo will be unable to meet future air travel demand and that something must be done.

The main obstacle preventing us from realizing these benefits is the fundamental conflict between the FAA’s role as safety regulator and its role as air traffic control provider, which has led to an overcautious culture within the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO). This is compounded by the fact that FAA’s ATO faces a number of political oversight constraints, leading to it treating politicians and bureaucrats as its customers, rather than the airports and aircraft that rely upon its services.

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