FAA, CNN team on ticker

The Federal Aviation Administration and CNN launched a new airport delay information service Tuesday based on information the FAA updates regularly on the World Wide Web.

The CNN Airport Network, which provides general news and information to travelers at 35 of the country's busiest airports, began displaying an on-screen ticker showing real-time delays of 60 minutes or more at 28 major U.S. airports.

The information is gleaned directly from the FAA's Air Traffic Control Command Center in Herndon, Va., which offers the same type of information on the Web at www.fly.faa.gov.

"This is one short-term way to help our traveling public with up-to-date FAA information on delays across the nation," Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, said during a press conference held at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Mica said that when he recently visited the FAA Command Center, he determined that the center's "incredible volume" of information could be put to use to help travelers. Within 60 days of that visit, the new CNN Airport Network service was launched.

CNN staffers developed software within three weeks that connects the ticker service with the FAA's real-time delay information, said Debbie Cooper, head of the CNN Airport Network. The software sifts through FAA's information to collect data on 28 airports experiencing delays of 60 minutes or more. The ticker will run six times every hour.

Although the service doesn't provide information for specific airlines, just knowing that an airport is experiencing a delay can help, said Charles Barclay, president of the American Association of Airport Executives. For example, if Boston is delayed, passengers might consider switching flights to Manchester, N.H., or Providence, R.I., he said.

Like being stuck in a traffic jam, "the only antidote to frustration is information," he said. The ticker advises travelers to check with their airlines for delay details.

FAA Administrator Jane Garvey said the new service is another way to disseminate real-time delay information to the public, which the agency first accomplished through its Web site and more recently through a cell phone and pager service.

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