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Mon, Nov 14, 2011

LaHood, Babbitt Plan Winter Weather Forum

Will Review Proposed Steps To Avoid Lengthy Tarmac Delays During Winter Storms

In preparation for the upcoming winter storm season, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt are convening a Forum on Wednesday, November 30 to find better ways to manage aircraft diversions. Participants in the forum will review a series of proposed steps to improve travel for passengers who are diverted from their destination because of bad weather.

“During severe weather situations, we want to do everything we can to make sure passengers are flown to airports that are ready and prepared and where passengers can get off the plane quickly,” said Secretary LaHood.

The forum will take place in Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington, D.C. and will include air traffic controllers, pilots, aircraft dispatchers, airport operators, and officials from other government agencies and the aviation community.

The participants will discuss all of the factors that influence diversion decisions and airport capacity in bad weather situations, including the status of navigation equipment, aircraft parking and gate availability, Customs capacity, refueling and de-icing assets, jetway and air stair access and general ramp operations and security.

“We can’t control the weather, but we can improve the way diversions are handled,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.

The FAA is asking forum participants to bring ideas and best practices to the discussion.  The FAA is proposing a new, web-based airport status tool that would present real-time information about each airport during a severe weather event to help airlines make fully informed decisions about where to divert. The FAA is also proposing including more airports in daily strategic planning conference calls during severe weather events to improve the information flow about which airports can accommodate diversions and would encourage airport contingency plans.



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