As an air traffic controller its always nice to see that there are others outside of the profession that understand the systems limitations.
I personally believe there is no such thing as an ATC delays. There are the "this airline over schedules this airport at this time delay" and then there is the "nimby doesn't want another runway even though jets are quieter than they ever have been delay."
Just trying to be a little funny.
But really now.
Think about it like this Corbin.
It can be kinda complicated but Ill try to make it easy.
Think of all the cities that have service to MSP
from the West, such as DEN
just to name a few. The airline wants them all to come into MSP
as close as possible so that connections can be made in a decent amount of time and then they can depart on to an east coast city. Maybe as far away as two or three Center sectors to the west of MSP
start setting up the sequence because all of these arrivals will have to enter one
of the four corners. See, most class B airspace is set up like a big box with arrivals coming in at the corners and departures to the flat surfaces of the box. This is probably the best way to set up airspace when you have a constant amount of traffic descending into and climbing out of a small area. Minneapolis center calls GFK
(or it comes out on the departure strip information) and the instruction is to have flight # so and so wheels up at so and so time. GFK
Tower has (I forget) something like 3 minutes before and 5 after that time to get the flight in the air. Why, because the sequence has already been established for the most part. Traffic Management (TMU) has coordinated with ATC and found or made a gap for your plane.
There is so much more to it than that.
I have observed center operations at the busiest center in the world (Cleveland Center) and was very surprised to see that the sequence for the southeast corner Chicago terminal area started over PIT
. Its truly amazing to see 20 or 30 planes flying in a line, everyone doing 300kts and roughly the same (give or take a few thousand feet) altitude.
Corbin, I know delays can be frustrating and there is nothing more frustrating than telling a plane, sorry I cant let you go right now, though I know its really the best message I can pass along at the time.
Every profession has its lazy people but I can tell you this. Our Country should be very proud of its ATC system and the people that make it function everyday. When we have delays or FLOs its not because we are all on break. It really comes down to have many planes can you land at one time. There are thousands of air traffic controllers that have your safety at heart and want to see you get to your destination safely.