Dec. 31, 2020

In continuing conversations with NBAA and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), top FAA air traffic officials are warning pilots to expect delays in Florida and up the East Coast this New Year’s holiday weekend.

Some pilots flying IFR have 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% along the Northeast and Florida corridor the weekend following Christmas compared to the same period last year. However, general aviation traffic was up 152% on Saturday, Dec. 26 and 193% on Sunday, Dec. 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, Jan. 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.

Specifically, NBAA and AOPA strongly encourage everyone to:

  • Plan ahead as much as possible.
  • File flight plans early, and accurately.
  • Avoid launching VFR to pick up an IFR clearance.

Review the latest updates regarding the National Airspace System.

These practical and highly effective measures are among the tenets of the FileSmart initiative, supported by NBAA and AOPA. Visit the FileSmart website.