A new rule to limit the amount of time passengers can be held on a runway was tested when a snow storm and a plane full of wounded soldiers shutdown several key runways. A storm knocked out key landing equipment at Kennedy airport preventing any flights from landing there. This forced over 140 flights to be rerouted, many of which tried to land at Logan Airport outside of Boston. One of the rerouted planes was a massive military plane delivering wounded soldiers from Libya. This shutdown the runway at Logan, forcing many flights to reroute to Bradley airport located outside of Boston. This airport did not have properly functioning refueling stations for the planes resulting in some passengers being stuck on the tarmac for over seven hours.
This is directly relevant to our discussion in class on air as a mode of freight transportation. In class we discussed how the savings in time can be offset by delays caused by problems in the hub and spoke network that many airport networks employ. Even though long delays are not regular, there is still a risk that one might occur. This is a major problem if production is being halted due to an electronic part not being available that was shipped through the air due to a delay.
I believe this is an important risk that needs to be considered before using air as a form of transportation. It is reassuring to hear that the FAA is trying to solve delay problems but it is obvious from this article that the industry has a long way to go. One possibility that airports could deploy is having an emergency plan in place for an event like this so it is not a free for all for runway space once the system breaks down.
Wall Street Journal @
Additional Sources Pertaining to Airport Delays