By Peter J. Howe, Globe Staff | December 18, 2006
It's been 47 years since Logan International Airport joined the jet age.
Now a key part of the airport's operations is finally joining the
Internet age, too.
This month, officials at the Massachusetts Port Authority , which runs
Logan, started a new system that gives airlines, air-traffic
controllers, and airport officials a password-protected website to
review runway closings, weather conditions, and a trove of other Logan
data. It's updated every 30 seconds.
As recently as this fall, much of that information was being relayed
through the equivalent of teletype machines and conference calls --
which isn't unusual. Boston's is one of only a handful of big US
airports to install the new "airfield reporting system." The two New
York City airports and Dulles International Airport, outside
Washington, D.C., are among the few others that are putting the
information on websites.
If it lives up to expectations, Logan's new automated airfield
reporting system could help reduce flight delays for passengers,
particularly during snowstorms that shut down runways and force
airlines to cancel and reschedule flights.
With better, timelier data about runway and weather conditions,
airlines may have a better chance to use available takeoff slots
during snowstorms and to time aircraft de-icing operations to make
sure planes are ready to go at available takeoff times. (Because ice
buildup on wings can make planes crash, airlines typically have a
window of only several minutes after wings are sprayed with de-icing
fluid before the plane has to be pulled out of the takeoff queue and
Alternatively, airlines can use the system to learn when they should
hold Boston-bound flights in other cities to reduce arrival delays and
avoid having planes circling over Massachusetts Bay.