The leader of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that airlines in the United States have reduced the number of delayed and canceled flights that have plagued summer travel.
Speaking at the Farnborough Airshow on Wednesday, Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen told Reuters.com the agency has seen “good improvements,” with delays being down overall and carriers working to “right size their network.”
Several major airlines blamed the delays and cancellations on air traffic control staffing issues caused by the FAA, but Nolen said most of the problems were “not in any way, shape or form related to air traffic (staffing) shortages.”
To ensure there were fewer staff shortages among air traffic controllers—especially in areas of higher congestion—the government agency said it was on track to hire 1,000 controllers this year after receiving over 50,000 applications.
Nolen also revealed the government agency was hiring key positions, saying, “I don’t buy into the notion that there is some sort of brain drain going on at the FAA.”
Nolen was also asked about the FAA possibly completing the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX 10 by the end of the year, but he said that remains up to the airplane manufacturer and whether they’re able to deliver a safe product in time.
“I will just direct you to back to Boeing in terms of what they think their ability to deliver, according to what time,” Nolen told Reuters.com.
Earlier this week, Delta Air Lines announced a new deal to purchase 100 Boeing 737 MAX 10 airplanes worth about $13.5 billion at list prices, with an option to buy 30 more in the future.
Boeing has until December to earn approval for the 737 MAX 10, but Delta announced the deal has “adequate protection in place,” including allowing the carrier to shift to another model of the MAX family if necessary.
“The Boeing 737-10 will be an important addition to Delta’s fleet as we shape a more sustainable future for air travel, with an elevated customer experience, improved fuel efficiency and best-in-class performance,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said.
Earlier this month, U.S. President Joe Biden nominated the head of Denver International Airport, Phil Washington, to take over the position of Administrator for the FAA.
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