Dallas – Fort Worth, TX – OEP:KDFW

8-15-2015 KDFW
(17,207 acres) Dallas – Fort Worth, TX

Four Nearby Instrument Airports:
[KDAL] 10 E ; [KADS] 11 NE ; [KGPM] 12 S ;
[KGKY] 14 S ;
(ave. distance: 12 nm)
Total Based Aircraft:0
Operations & ATC:
(est. 1,849 ops/day (99% commercial)
24hr FAA towerFAA staffing as of 9/20/14:52
FAA’s ATADS data shows Peak Year was 1997. Total airport operations in 2014 were DOWN 27% from the peak year.
Click on this button for links to background info: [KDFW]-REFERENCE
Additional buttons:NextGen-Noisesearch (aiR)OEP-35
AIRNAV Form 5010 WIKI NOAA (weather)

DFW ATADS data, 1991-2014:

Year Commercial Ops % Commercial TOTAL OPS Change from Peak Year
1991 719,727 98% 736,156 -21%
1992 747,883 98% 764,295 -18%
1993 789,024 98% 803,902 -14%
1994 826,551 98% 841,393 -10%
1995 863,073 98% 880,436 -6%
1996 834,897 95% 875,781 -6%
1997 836,381 89% 934,624 PEAK YEAR
1998 823,508 89% 929,700 -1%
1999 817,957 94% 867,338 -7%
2000 821,778 95% 865,777 -7%
2001 769,299 96% 802,587 -14%
2002 752,472 97% 777,386 -17%
2003 757,665 98% 775,900 -17%
2004 794,339 98% 814,494 -13%
2005 706,282 98% 718,207 -23%
2006 692,962 99% 702,722 -25%
2007 679,140 99% 686,711 -27%
2008 648,620 99% 655,306 -30%
2009 633,582 99% 638,782 -32%
2010 646,413 99% 652,258 -30%
2011 640,541 99% 646,803 -31%
2012 643,907 99% 650,124 -30%
2013 671,438 99% 678,059 -27%
2014 672,134 99% 679,820 -27%

Aeronautical chart from VFRmap.com. (Click to open in a new window).

Scrollable aerial view at bing.com. (Click to open in a new window).

Airport Narrative (Overview & History)

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is the third busiest airport in the world (in terms of airport operations), behind only Atlanta [KATL] and Chicago O’Hare [KORD]. The city of Dallas proposed a joint airport with Fort Worth, as early as 1927, but the offer was declined, and the two cities each created their own airports: Dallas (Love Field), and Fort Worth (Meacham Field).

A few years after the stock market crash that started the Great Depression, the Federal government began to promote aviation and airports to create jobs and grow the economy. This promotion accelerated rapidly in the late 1930’s. Then, in 1940, the Civil Aeronautics Administration earmarked $1.9 million for the construction of a Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport. Two major airlines (both American and Braniff) supported the idea, but the two cities again failed to agree, and the project was abandoned. In 1961, FAA refused to fund airports in BOTH Dallas and Fort Worth, and besides, Love Field was becoming boxed in by other development. So, more pressure was put upon the two cities to forge an agreement. By the mid-1960’s Love Field was handling 49% of Texas flights, while Meacham had roughly 1%. In 1964, under the administration of notable and powerful Texan Lyndon Johnson, FAA threatened that if the two cities could not resolve their differences, FAA would plan the new airport without them. An agreement was finally struck, and construction began in 1969. The new airport opened in January 1974.
Texas-style power politics continued. In 1979, the Wright Amendment was passed by Congress. It turns out that, when DFW opened in 1974, all airlines operating at Love Field relocated – except Southwest Airlines. Love Field was effectively gutted, and concourses were decommissioned; the lone exception was Southwest, which had not been part of the agreement that formed DFW. The matter went to the courts, and Southwest’s position was upheld by the law. The powers who had invested in the DFW project could not afford to allow little Southwest to undermine the growth of DFW, so Congress was brought in to create new laws. The Wright Amendment (sponsored by Texas congressman Jim Wright) declared that operators out of Love Field could only fly direct flights to Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and New Mexico. Longer direct flights were allowed, but only using aircraft seating no more than 56 passengers (well below the 130+ seats in the Southwest fleet). Many amendments and repeal efforts followed, and the latest repeal compromise was struck in 2006.

Such are the politics of aviation….

American is the dominant airline at DFW. They established their first major hub at DFW in 1981. Braniff had the largest presence when DFW opened in 1974 (an entire Terminal), but they went bankrupt and ceased operating in 1982. Now, with the recent USAirways-American merger, DFW will intensify as the southern Super-Hub for this new mega-airline, possibly growing traffic at the expense of dozens of other airports.

The Anne Whiteman – FAA Case

DFW is also the location of one of the most significant and publicly reported FAA ATC Whistleblower cases.
Anne Whiteman was a controller at DFW who first spoke up about safety problems in 1998, including the non-reporting and mis-reporting of controller errors. She then endured twelve years of retaliation, ostracism, and even a death threat, before retiring in 2010.
Her concerns were reported to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) in 2004. In June 2005, OSC confirmed her concerns, and sent an Analysis attached to a Letter to the President and Congress.
Four months later, Ms. Whiteman was honored with Special Counsel’s 2005 Public Servant Award.
FAA was directed to fix their problem, but no fix was made, and the same problems were reported again in 2007, this time by three DFW controllers. Then, in November 2008, OSC sent a second Analysis and Letter to the President, repeating the earlier validation of the safety and fraud issues raised by Ms. Whiteman.
…here are two links related to the Whiteman-FAA Whistleblower Case…
Anne’s WB StoryAn NPR News Story

Just like American, Delta formed a hub at DFW but, two decades later, an airline bankruptcy ended that. In 2005, Delta eliminated all commuter feeders and retained only trunk flights to other Delta hubs. The loss of Delta’s traffic produced empty gates, which in turn spurred an effort to recruit Southwest to begin flying at DFW. Those efforts were for naught; Southwest declined, and continues to fly out of Love Field.

The airport sits on 17,207 acres and has no based aircraft. This is the second largest airport in the U.S.; Denver [KDEN] is number one at 33,531 acres. There are five terminals and 161 gates. The five parallel north-south runways, and two additional diagonal runways, make for enormous airport capacity, which is presently substantially underutilized.

ATC services, are provided 24/7 by FAA controllers, and the airport averages 1,849 operations per day (38 takeoffs per hour). As shown in the ATADS Table above, traffic peaked in 1997, but has since declined by 27%. The largest single-year decline occurred in 2005, coincident with the not-quite-total departure of Delta.