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FAA expects air traffic delays in Florida and East Coast this weekend

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) strongly encourage pilots to:

  • Plan ahead as much as possible.
  • File flight plans early, and accurately.
  • Avoid launching VFR to pick up an IFR clearance.
  • Check for the latest updates regarding the national airspace system, which can be found here.

Some pilots flying IFR experienced multi-hour delays in getting departure clearances over the Christmas weekend, and the FAA is expecting similar volumes of traffic for the New Year’s weekend. Airline operations were down 20 percent along the Northeast and Florida corridor last weekend compared to the same period last year. However, general aviation traffic was up 152 percent on December 26 and 193 percent on December 27 compared to the same period last year, according to FAA officials.

Pilots can assist the FAA by filing IFR flight plans at least 24 hours in advance, giving the agency time to plan for traffic flows. Also, plan to leave Florida as early in the weekend or as late in the weekend as possible—or even Monday, January 4, to avoid the worst of the rush.

“This Sunday will be a bad day getting out of South Florida,” reiterated one FAA official.

The FAA said it is unlikely that it will be able to accept pop-up IFR flight plans or clearances along the East Coast, especially for those flying in the flight levels and into congested areas.

The practical, highly effective measures listed above are among the tenets of the filesmart initiative, supported by AOPA and NBAA.