Regional News - North America.

 
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New York (AirGuide - Regional News North America) Nov 27, 2011

US carriers report three extended tarmac delays in September US Dept. of TransportationOs Bureau of Transportation Statistics said the nationOs largest carriers reported three tarmac delays longer than 3 hr. in September, compared to four flights in September 2010. DOT this month issued its first-ever fine of USD900,000 for lengthy tarmac delays against American Eagle Airlines; the rule restricting tarmac delays for US domestic flights to 3 hr. or fewer became effective in April 2010. According to BTS, SkyWest Airlines reported a delay of 202 minutes, a United Airlines aircraft was delayed 196 minutes and an ExpressJet Airlines aircraft was delayed 194 minutes. All three took place at Washington Dulles Sept. 14, when there were severe thunderstorms in the area. According to BTS, the 16 carriers filing on-time performance (OTP) recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 83.9% in September, down slightly from 85.1% in the year-ago month. In September, the carriers reported that 5.16% of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 5.19% in August; 5.24% by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 6.63% in August; 4.29% by factors within the airlineOs control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.28% in August; 0.37% by extreme weather, compared to 0.70% in August; and 0.03% for security reasons, compared to 0.04% in August. Hawaiian Airlines again led all carriers in OTP in September with an on-time arrival rate of 95.5%. Alaska Airlines followed at 91.7% and AirTran Airways at 89.5%. The worst performers were JetBlue Airways at 77.8%, ExpressJet Airlines at 77.9% and Continental Airlines at 79.8%. During September, the carriers canceled 0.8% of their scheduled domestic flights, down from a cancellation rate of 0.9% in September 2010 and 2.5% in August. Under an expansion of the tarmac delay rule that took effect Aug. 23, international flights at covered US airports are now prohibited from remaining on the tarmac for more than 4 hr. without permitting passengers the opportunity to deplane, subject to the same safety, security and air traffic control-related exceptions as in the rule for domestic flights, said DOT. BTS reported there were no international flights with tarmac delays of more than 4 hr. between Aug. 23 and Sept. 30. Nov 25, 2011

Travelers should turn to TSA web site for travel tips, Pistole says.

Transportation Security Administration Administrator John Pistole urged travelers to visit the TSA web site for helpful tips on airport security this holiday season. In an interview with CNN, he also said travelers may notice that many scanners now have privacy filters that display generic images. Pistole also said he had no safety concerns about the machines. "But there are those who continue to express concerns, and so I want to do everything that I can to reassure those people that these machines are as safe as possible and very well under the standards that are set for safety," he added. Nov 23, 2011

Mica's TSA report raises interesting points House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., wants to shift responsibility for screening travelers at airports to private companies, writes Joe Davidson in the Washington Post. Last week, he issued a report calling for the transfer of Oairport screening operations to private contractors under federal supervision.O Davidson notes that Mica's criticism of the Transportation Security Administration raises interesting points. For example, Mica's report observed that the TSA Oadvertised for employment at the Washington Reagan National Airport on pizza boxes and on advertisements above pumps at discount gas stations in the D.C. area.O Nov 23, 2011

Regulators should focus on checkpoints' efficiency Forcing airlines to allow travelers to check one bag for free is not the solution to reducing wait times in airport security lines, the USA TODAY editorial board writes. The board notes that many carriers have adopted business models that include fees for checked bags. "Rather than limit choice and regulate what airlines can or cannot offer fliers, regulators should continue working on the efficiency of airport checkpoints," the board writes. Nov 23, 2011

Bill seeks to curb baggage fees on air travelers Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., introduced a bill that would require all airlines to waive fees on one checked and one carry-on luggage per passenger, within weight limits. Separate legislation would impose additional security fees on carriers that fail to comply. Air Transport Association spokesman Steve Lott says the move would only increase ticket costs for passengers. Nov 23, 2011

Florida travel numbers jump for Thanksgiving Travelers are filling hotels and airports in southwest Florida ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend, with AAA predicting that 2.2 million Florida residents will travel over the holiday. Some take this continued boom as an indication of strong business to come in 2012. "Leisure travel is significantly up since last year, and we continue to grow our occupancy, especially during the holiday season," said Bruce Seigel, director of sales and marketing for the Ritz-Carlton in Naples. Nov 23, 2011

Mich. receives USD150M DOT grant for Detroit-Chicago HSR corridor The planned high-speed rail route between Detroit and Chicago received a financial shot in the arm from a USD150 million grant to the Michigan Department of Transportation from the U.S. DOT. Infrastructure work is scheduled to begin next spring. The state is among 32 states with high-speed rail projects, and a USD10 billion investment has already been made by the DOT for similar plans throughout the country. Nov 23, 2011

The benefits of embracing solid-state storage Solid-state drives can be cheaper and better performing than a tiered architecture, according to a Forrester Research report. While SSDs are still 10 times more expensive than hard disks, SSDs have greater capacity, need less power and don't have movable parts that can break down. Nov 23, 2011

How private cash drives innovation in New York's public schools Private philanthropy contributes only a tiny part of New York City's education budget, but it's a key factor in driving educational innovation, former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein says in this Big Think video. Private money is used to set up niche projects, such as leadership foundations or programs to improve struggling schools, Klein says. Nov 23, 2011

FAA warns of dangers of laser strikes on planes The Federal Aviation Administration is shining a light on the dangers of pointing lasers at aircraft. "Look, quite simply, pointing a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft threatens lives," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wrote in his blog. The number of laser strikes reported in 2010 was 2,836, compared with 283 reported in 2005. Nov 22, 2011

U.S.-EU passenger data-sharing agreement moves closer to approval A draft pact will allow the United States and the European Union to start sharing passenger data. The agreement, which was initialed last week, is aimed at preventing global terrorism. European officials say the agreement includes provisions that will protect passengers' privacy. The agreement still needs approval from the European Council and parliament. Nov 22, 2011

Report urges TSA to improve information distribution. A recent Government Accountability Office report found that the Transportation Security Administration could improve the way it distributes information about threats. Fifty-seven percent of the aviation, rail and highway stakeholders interviewed said they would welcome guidance on adopting security measures in response to threat information provided by the TSA. The report also urged the TSA to communicate with stakeholders to improve awareness of the HSIN-CS portal and to make sure they are getting threat information. Nov 22, 2011

Airlines step up first-class amenities Airlines are investing in upgrades to first-class service while cutting back on offerings in coach. Some first-coach cabins have in-flight showers and massage service to cater to passengers on international flights. But in coach, such things as free food service are no longer offered with many seats. Nov 22, 2011

AAR reports decline in U.S. grain shipments Weak exports caused an 18.3% decline in the volume of grain shipments on U.S. railroads during the week through Nov. 12 versus year-ago levels, according to the Association of American Railroads. Rail shipments to ports "were 30% to 40% below where they were at the same point in 2010" based on information from the Department of Agriculture, according to AAR. However, cargo volumes posted mild growth week-on-week. Nov 22, 2011

FRA devises "model" state law for grade-crossing violators Sanctions against vehicle drivers who disobey state safety laws at grade crossings could be strengthened. The Federal Railroad Administration met with different groups to come up with a "model" state law. If a state adopts the model law, some traffic violations would be raised "to misdemeanors and felonies if a motorist commits illegal activities at grade crossings, such as driving through, around or under a crossing gate or barrier," according to FRA officials. Nov 22, 2011

High-tech contact lenses act as tiny computer screens Researchers from the U.S. and Finland say they've created a prototype for a computerized contact lens that could enable wearers to access and view networked data. The single-pixel device includes an antenna, an integrated circuit and a transparent mini-chip with an embedded LED. The lens has a host of limitations, according to engineers -- including a remote power range of less than an inch -- but early testing shows they can be worn without causing harm to the eye, a necessary first step to further development. Nov 22, 2011

Why companies should prove their eco-marketing claims Companies should provide...

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