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The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street: April 15

2. Jumbo Jets Put the Squeeze on Airports

What? The world's largest commercial airliner clipped a much smaller plane on the tarmac at Kennedy International Airport on Monday night, tossing it like it had been a toy car in a child's hands. Who could have seen that coming?

Regardless of whether the pilots or the air traffic controllers are found to be at fault, one apparent certainty is that anyone could have seen this coming. That is, unless you're in the cockpit of the world's largest plane, we guess. The Airbus A380 has a wingspan of 262 feet; JFK's taxiway -- the industry standard -- is 75 feet. A little basic math, throw in a couple other dozen planes of various sizes in the vicinity, and yikes.

We're not going to argue for restrictions on plane size here, but this near catastrophe makes clear that technology and engineering are allowing planes to outgrow the environments in which they were designed to operate.

Maybe our airports can handle these jumbo jets just fine and air traffic controllers just need to do a better job. Clearly going through the political nightmare of getting airports expanded to handle the realities of the modern age is too much work.

Adding further stress to the system is definitely the better bet. It's not as if the air traffic control system isn't completely modernized, right? Oh, and there haven't been reports of air traffic controllers falling asleep in the tower in Washington, D.C., Seattle, Nevada and Tennessee over the past several weeks. It's not so bad that the head of air traffic control in the U.S. resigned on Thursday, is it?

Despite knowingly putting more stress on the outdated traffic system and apparently sleepy controllers, airports are falling over themselves to get FAA waivers that will allow them to welcome the A380 and the soon to be introduced Boeing (BA) jumbo 747 to their runways.

Our advice to future flyers -- make sure you're on the biggest plane possible.

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