Black Wednesday (air travel)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

September 15, 1954, known as Black Wednesday, was a particularly good example of air traffic control's inability to handle increases in traffic levels. It was initiated by inclement weather approaching New York City. Air traffic controllers were confronted with a record number of pilots filing instrument flight plans causing severe traffic congestion and substantial delays amongst 45,000 airline passengers and private aircraft all along the eastern seaboard of the United States.[1]


In the 1940s and 1950s air travel increased at a greater rate than air traffic control's ability to handle the traffic. In normal clear weather pilots could fly without air traffic control but when inclement weather occurred, pilots would obtain clearance from air traffic control and fly on the federal airways at 50 to 100 miles separation. Frequently, weather would overload the system and cause delays up to 1,000 miles away.


  1. ^ Nolan, M.S. (1999). Fundamentals of air traffic control. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks Cole Publishing Company.