Saturday, September 06, 2008

Delays Despite Their Worst Effort



There’s another article on the web that demonstrates the FAA’s continued failure. This one is from Aviation Week.

No Cap On Delays At NY Airports

”The on-time performance at New York area airports was essentially just as bad in July 2008 as in July 2007, in spite of all the efforts U.S. Transportation Dept. and FAA officials have been making to improve the summertime congestion and delay problems there, according to DOT figures released Sept. 3. “

“Federal officials have tried to improve the on-time performance at the airports this summer by imposing hourly caps on the number of flights at Kennedy and Newark during peak hours. It also promised to implement many airport and airspace operational improvements. “


I know you think it might be odd that I’m calling attention to the fact that slot restrictions have failed to control the delays in New York when I have touted slot restrictions as the solution to the delays. The difference lies in the quote above: “Federal officials have tried...” They haven’t really “tried”. They’ve just made it seem like they are trying.

As I’ve said before, until the slot restrictions are closer to the IFR (bad weather) rate than the VFR (good weather) rate, the delays will continue.

While researching this entry, I visited the FAA’s site on arrival rates that I’ve directed you to before. Lo and behold, the FAA has finally updated the site. Well, at least they’ve rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic. The various arrival rate pages now use the abbreviation “IMC” and “VMC”.

To alleviate any confusion:

IFR = Instrument Flight Rules

Which is the same thing as:

IMC = Instrument Meteorological Conditions

VFR = Visual Flight Rules

Which is the same thing as:

VMC = Visual Meteorological Conditions

Low VMC means the weather is between VFR/VMC and IFR/IMC

Low IMC means the weather is so bad that some airplanes might not be able to see the airport and land. It just depends on the type of navigational equipment they have.

The arrival rate for LGA, using RWY 22 for arrival and RWY 13 for departures remains unchanged; 35-38 for instrument/IFR/IMC/Low IMC conditions.

Just in case you’d like to analyze it for yourself, the current page is still at the same location:

http://www.fly.faa.gov/Information/east/zny/lga/lga_aar.htm

If you failed to save the previous page (I did) you can still access it with the neat internet site -- WayBack Machine. It’s more internet magic. Just plug in the previous URL and it will show you previous versions of the web page. In case you don’t want to toy with it, just click here for the previous page on LGA’s Airport Arrival Rate. It’s a really neat trick.

I got so focused on New York that I forgot to save the data for Atlanta. WayBack Machine took care of that for me.

If you look at the current page for the Atlanta Airport Arrival Rate and the previous version, you’ll see that ATL’s (Atlanta) arrival rate has increased from a maximum of 96 arrivals per hour to a maximum of 126 arrivals per hour.

Going back to the Aviation Week article;

”Kennedy-based JetBlue ranked last among the majors at 64.6%. JetBlue vowed to all it can to improve, but also added, “The long-term solution to congestion in the Northeast is a modernized air traffic control system. We believe top priorities should be ATC efficiency and improvements to create increased capacity. We look forward to working with the FAA on operational enhancements at JFK, which we expect would enable us to improve our on-time performance overall.”“

Perhaps JetBlue would like to explain to you how the FAA’s air traffic control system can handle an increase of 30 arrivals per hour at Atlanta but JFK -- using the exact same ATC equipment -- can’t. It might have something to do with that brand-new fifth runway that Atlanta built.

Have I mentioned before that a runway can handle -- basically -- 60 operations per hour ? 30 arrivals and 30 departures. Yeah, I think I have.

It’s the runways, stupid.

Don Brown
September 6, 2008

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