Hello dear reader! Welcome to another edition of Ask Giz, where we answer all your reader-submitted technical, science, and generally new space questions.
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Today’s question comes from Vanessa in Sydney. Vanessa wants to know:
“How do pilots make time in the air?”
Thanks for the question, Vanessa! Talking to my publisher about this in planning this Ask Giz, she was very concerned about how time was made during the return flight from NYC. Travel (despite a few glitches) is a thing again, so I guess it’s a curious question among many international travelers (of whom, I’m not. I’ve flown the farthest from Sydney to Brisbane).
So, let’s get to it. Pilot: How do you do that?
How do pilots ‘make up’ in the air?
Taking time in the air isn’t exactly as science-fiction or drab as it might sound: it’s actually the result of well-organized planning between planes and air traffic control.
Air Traffic Control The team at the airport that controls the air traffic… As such, they talk to planes in the air and make sure things in the airspace are stacked orderly as planes move from waypoint to waypoint.
Keep those waypoints in mind. As such, in a racing videogame, planes must pass through these waypoints to pass through airspace, as indicated by air traffic control, such as ordering traffic with a traffic light.
But if you’re a few minutes behind, one of these waypoints can be removed, taking a few minutes off your flight time. This would not normally be done, but if there is some sort of delay, such as slow winds or problems at the airport, air traffic control can work out a way to talk to the pilot.
Here’s what Jim Cox, a retired airline pilot, told How Stuff Works:
,[Airline traffic control] has given priority to routing outside and in major cities. They require that the routing filed is the flight plan routing; Depending on traffic, ATC may accept a request to shorten the flight path between navigation waypoints.”
So it’s just a little. Making up time is typically something you’ll hear when experiencing delays on longer flights, but shorter flights with fewer waypoints can likely have less “make-up” times.
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Ask Giz is a fortnightly series where we answer your questions, whether related to technology, science, gadgets, health or gaming. This is a reader-involved series where we rely on the viewers of Gizmodo Australia to submit questions. If you have a question for Giz, you can submit it here. Or see our previous Ask Giz’s answer: Why is my poo green?