FAA or Your Car: Whose Computer Has More Muscle?

"We're America. We can find a way to walk and chew gum at the same time," Freeman said. "We can make the process more efficient. We can use a world-class air traffic control system that reduces the amount of space between planes that enables planes to fly a more direct route to their destination."

The catch, of course, is who is going to pay for all of it. New equipment would be required in planes and at airports and control centers. Some airports are already testing some of the technology and some airlines, such as Alaska, are putting it in their planes. But there are still several funding and legislative issues in Congress to be resolved.

"We basically have in many cases the equivalent of an Atari ping pong game as the technology running our air traffic control system. You have 1980s computers running a lot of this stuff," said Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com and an ABCNews.com columnist.

Seaney advocates moving up the time frame for implementing NextGen.

"I know the government wants to do everything kind of slowly," Seaney said.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday that the country's aviation system is "in shambles" and the FAA needs more resources to prevent such problems from continuing.

"If we don't deliver the resources, manpower, and technology the FAA needs to upgrade the system, these technical glitches that cause cascading delays and chaos across the country are going to become a very regular occurrence," he said in a statement.

Daniel Baker, CEO of FlightAware, an online flight tracking and planning service, said the biggest problem with the current system is just how far apart each plane has to stay.

The GPS system, he said, is "much more precise than radar."

"The air traffic system control today was never designed to cope with as much traffic as there is with airline passengers, private planes and cargo flights," Baker said. "There's just way, way more than was ever anticipated."

But don't expect a new system to be perfect.

"You could have a new system that could crash in the same way," he said. "You're always going to have situations where there are computer problems."

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