A reader commented on our story “Newt Gingrich: ‘I’m launching an air-traffic modernization project’, as follows:
I don’t believe Mr Gingrich really knows much about air traffic control, most of the delays (+75%) are weather related and have nothing to do with the aircraft flying the most direct route unless of course the severe weather is along their route. Most of the commercial air traffic is already using satellite based navigation. I’m not speaking against NEXTGEN, what I’m saying is the limiting factor in capacity in the National Airspace System is runway availability. To say that one can reduce delays and get rid of “7000 union controllers” is just hot air talking.
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So you know how Al Gore invented the internet? Well, apparently Newt Gingrich invented NextGen. Just read this NYT profile:
Gingrich laid out for me his latest preoccupation, which, surprisingly, had nothing to do with stimulus or banking. “One of the projects I’m going to launch — we don’t have a name for it yet — is an air-traffic modernization project,” Gingrich told me excitedly. “You can do a space-based air-traffic-control system with half the current number of air-traffic controllers, increase the amount of air traffic in the northeast by 40 percent, allow point-to-point flights without the controllers having to have highways in the sky, and reduce the amount of aviation fuel by 10 percent. So it’s better for the environment, better for the economy. You have far fewer delays in New York, and by the way, you cut the number of unionized air-traffic controllers by 7,000.
“Our thematic is going to be — you’re going to love this — that if you have an air-traffic delay that’s not caused by weather, take the extra time at the airport and call your two senators and your congressman and demand they pass the modernization act,” Gingrich enthused. “Now, notice what I’m doing,” he said, leaning back and smiling. “I’m offering you a better value.”
This has led to a low-grade debate among conservative bloggers, but not exactly for the reasons you’d think. Here’s is Andrew Sullivan’s reaction, and James Fallows’ reaction to that.