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FROM THIS EPISODE

Existing technology could make air travel faster, more fuel efficient and cheaper, but the control system won't be updated until 2025.  We hear why and what passengers can expect in the meantime. Also, getting healthcare reform through the Senate, and tensions between Venezuela and Colombia are being fueled by the drug trade, human rights, oil, presidential egos--and US military bases. 

Banner image: : A television monitor shows inbound flights at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport August 26, 2008 in Linthicum, Maryland. A computer malfunction at a Federal Aviation Administration facility in Georgia was to blame for the massive flight delays around the country. Photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Ask the Pilot

Patrick Smith

Producers:
Gary Scott
Sonya Geis
Andrea Brody

Main Topic Plotting a Flight Plan for the 21st Century 35 MIN, 50 SEC

Last week a computer glitch required air traffic controllers to get flight plans by fax and type them into computers by hand. No lives were at risk and the problem itself was confined to the Northeast, but a lot of passengers were delayed and the incident dramatized how a 21st century system operates on 1960's technology.  When cars and cell phones connect to global positioning satellites, why does air traffic control still depend on ground-based radar and radio? When $35 billion has already been spent, why is the Next Generation system so far behind? And, what's in store for this week of heavy holiday travel?

Guests:
Matt Wald, New York Times (@MattWaldNYT)
Patrick Smith, AskThePilot.com (@AskThePilot)
Ken Shapero, Director of Marketing and Communications, Naverus
Kate Hanni, Founder, FlyersRights.org

Reporter's Notebook US Military Bases in Colombia Fuel Regional Tensions 7 MIN, 22 SEC

Venezuela last week blew up two foot-bridges that crossed a river into Colombia, an act Colombia calls an "act of calculated hostility." It's the latest in a series of incidents that have South America worried about the prospect of armed conflict. What do US bases in Colombia have to do with it? Peter Hakim is president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a center for policy analysis and exchange on Western Hemisphere relations based in Washington.

Guests:
Peter Hakim, President of the Inter-American Dialogue

Making News What Magic Will Get Healthcare Reform through the Senate? 7 MIN, 47 SEC

On Saturday, Democrats scraped up the bare 60 votes needed to get healthcare reform on to the Senate floor. But those supporters of allowing debate are already divided over the bill itself. Jeffrey Young reports on healthcare for The Hill, a paper that covers the Senate and Congress.

Guests:
Jeffrey Young, Huffington Post (@jeffyoung)

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