What's going on with air travel? Incidents, headaches continue at RDU and across the country

Josh Chapin Image
Tuesday, March 7, 2023
Recent string of airline incidents cause for concern
High travel demand, less experienced pilots and air traffic controllers and changing weather patterns have made for a bumpy start in the skies for 2023.

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Another day of headaches for travelers at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

An American Airlines flight headed to Austin had to come back because of mechanical problems

The issues came not just here at home but across the country including in Boston on Monday where two United planes clipped wings.

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"There is an unusual number, I agree," said Ross Aimer, CEO of Aero Consulting Experts.

He flew commercially for 40 years and retired with United.

"We have had several close calls this year," he said.

Aimer was most concerned by the incident in Austin when two planes nearly collided.

"That was very uncomfortable," Aimer said. "It was very close however you look at, it but the system did work."

He said he believes the system has been overloaded by demand after the pandemic.

That coupled with less experienced pilots and air traffic controllers as well as changing weather patterns and you have that bumpy start in 2023.

"At least we know the system is very, very safe and it works," Aimer said. "A lot of these near-misses happen because of human failure and human mistakes. As long as we have humans in the system, we face these things."

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A Southwest flight from Havana to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday had to return to Cuba after a bird strike. A video showed the cabin filling up with smoke and passengers exiting the plane on slides.

"Common sense is lost when people come to the airport," said Daniel Iacono, who travels weekly from RDU to Dulles Airport in Virginia. "I'm not exactly sure what has changed but it feels like you hear about it more."

A Southwest plane on Friday that was supposed to land at RDU had to divert to Myrtle Beach because of weather and severe turbulence. Passengers had to spend hours in a closed, empty airport.

Aimer said the one thing that needs to be ensured is that pilots get as much rest as possible.

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