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November 22, 2012

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Long waits on planes to be reduced

AIRLINE passengers are expected to spend less time waiting for departure on board as the regional air traffic control authority and the airports operator are studying a computerized flight volume management system to replace the current manual sorting.

The system may be introduced as soon as year's end, said the Shanghai-based East China Air Traffic Management Bureau, the regional traffic supervisor.

The system is complex as "it included various pieces of information collected from airports, flights and air traffic control," a bureau official said.

The new method has been used as part of a trial in north China since August.

Computer sorting arranges the departure order within two hours of boarding time, which is expected to be useful during flight delays.

Air travelers complain that they have been asked by the airlines to board planes but remain on the ground during periods of flight delays. Airline companies then can show they met the scheduled departure time, which now is considered to be when passengers are aboard and the craft's door shut in preparation for leaving the gate.

While computerized system would have a suggested boarding time, airlines wouldn't be penalized if passengers stay in the terminal when there are flight delays they cannot control.

Using computer sorting, the flight order of planes that cannot leave on time, based on the suggested departure time, will be canceled and other flights will fill in.

"Of course the computers cannot replace the manual methods totally especially during emergencies like large-scale delays in bad weather," an air traffic official said. Also, boarding times are related to a terminal's size and gate location, which may challenge the new system, officials said.


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