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Monday Aug 20 2012
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Clearing the Air over Flight Delays
Published: Aug 16, 2012 
Local flight control authorities plan to launch a new system within a year that will make information about flight delays more transparent for airlines and airports, local media reported Wednesday.

Authorities hope the system will shed some light on the murky world of flight delays, where passengers are sometimes left waiting at airports or on planes without any clear idea about how long it will take to get off the ground.

The Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) system aims to help keep passengers better informed about upcoming flight delays, allowing them to adjust their travel plans if necessary, said Li Baiyang, director of the flight volume control department of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) East China Regional Administration.

"We will keep airlines and airports informed about flight delays through the CDM system," Li told the Global Times. "That will allow them to let passengers remain in the terminal rather than boarding the planes too early. Passengers can then consider whether to take a bullet train or cancel their flights."

The system has long been in use in Europe and the U.S., and can help increase flight control efficiency, said Zhao Yifei, vice dean of the College of Air Traffic Management at the Civil Aviation University of China.

The CAAC tested the system last month in several northern cities, including Beijing and Tianjin, as well as last year in the southern city of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. The agency announced Tuesday that it will implement the system in Shanghai. "There is hope that the system will be up and running in Shanghai within one year," Li said.

Flight control authorities are not always clear about the length of delays, even with airports and airlines. Airline captains are sometimes not told about delays until passengers have already boarded the plane, said Zhang Wuan, spokesperson of Spring Airlines.

"Captains have to keep the passengers on board, sometimes for hours, because the planes have to be ready to take off at a moment’s notice once flight control authorities give the order," Zhang told the Global Times.

Shanghai has already started using the system for some flights, including one to Beijing, the Shanghai Evening Post reported Wednesday.

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