New Book Seeks Solutions To "Terminal Chaos"

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Former FAA official George Donohue and co-author Russell Shaver have written a book, "Terminal Chaos: Why U.S. Air Travel Is Broken and How to Fix It," addressing problems with the national airspace system and air traffic control -- and their proposed solutions are attracting attention. Paul Fiduccia, president of the Small Aircraft Manufacturers Association, said the authors "have the knowledge and capability to work through this problem to success, if we as a community want to fix the system." Robert Poole, of the Reason Foundation, says in the foreword that the book offers the "best prescription I've seen" for fixing what's wrong with air travel. The authors compare the U.S. system to Europe's, and their proposals for improvement include holding government decision-makers responsible, expanding the capacity of airports and airplanes, modernizing the air traffic control system, and taking steps to reduce congestion. Some Amazon reviewers were not impressed, one noting that the authors failed to notice the issue of limited runway capacity as a factor in congestion, another feeling the research was "incredibly shoddy and out of date."

The authors have decades of experience in civil aviation and policy -- Donohue worked at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as well as the FAA, and is now a professor at George Mason University. Shaver, formerly a senior RAND Corporation research analyst and chief scientist at the MITRE Center for Advanced Aviation System Development, is now a visiting research fellow at GMU. Donohue is taking questions about the book online, through July 22, at the McClatchy News Web site. He suggests that airlines have a lot to learn from GA about technical progress and safety. The first chapter of the book is posted online.