JFK: Evidence of FAA & PANYNJ Failure to Manage Capacity & Delays

The two screencaps below look at the ten most congested airports in 2000, as well as the airports for which the most money was spent expanding infrastructure between 1988 and 2002. They are screencaps from slides #17 and #19 of A Historical and Legislative Perspective on Airport Planning & Management, a January 2002 presentation by Alexander T. Wells & Seth B. Young.

In a normal economic environment, actions are taken to mitigate problems. Delays are one such problem. If the aviation sector behaved rationally, regulators (in this case, FAA) and operators (both airports and airlines) would make adjustments to reduce delays, even more so because the delays at the largest hub airports cascade into more delays at other airports.

The data in this January 2002 presentation shows that FAA and airport authorities are not acting rationally to reduce delays and are, in fact, doing exactly the opposite of what they need to do. That is, instead of scaling back excessive operations at the most congested airports, they are doubling down, spending even more money to enable even more over-scheduling (and congestion/delays) by the major airlines.

A look at the major airports serving the NYC-Philadelphia area is revealing. The four main airports all rank in the top-10 delay airports for 2000:

  • Newark (EWR, United hub): ranked #1
  • LaGuardia (LGA): ranked #2
  • Kennedy (JFK, major hub for American/Delta/JetBlue): ranked #5
  • Philadelphia (PHL, American hub being scaled down): ranked #7

The worst-case example is JFK. The role of this airport has always including serving as a major international hub, but, with the formation of JetBlue, a substantial amount of domestic hub traffic has been added. The airlines make higher profits when they increase hub through-traffic, but airline pursuit of higher profits is supposed to be balanced against impacts such as more noise pollution, more air pollution, and more surface road congestion. The airport authority (PANYNJ) and federal regulator (FAA) are supposed to ensure this balance, but they fail; unfortunately, both FAA and PANYNJ are instead focused solely on serving airline profits, and are thus blinded from seeing the impacts, such as under the JFK Arc of Doom.

How bad is the failure by FAA/PANYNJ regarding JFK? Well, notice the last column in the table below.Of the top-ten delay hubs in 2000, only two have seen positive average annual growth in operations, from 2000 to 2017. By far, the largest average growth is at JFK, averaging 1.5% annual growth in operations. Compare that with Philadelphia, which has averaged a 1.3% annual decline in operations. Is the Philadelphia population shrinking while the NYC-area population is exploding, to explain these two trends? No. These trends – and the subsequent impacts – are due to airline scheduling, motivated by airline profits. Philadelphia is scaling down because American absorbed US Airways, and since then, American has been shifting schedule capacity AWAY from PHL and TOWARD JFK, LGA, and DCA (yet another high-impact airport).

Clearly, if FAA wanted to take a decisive action in 2018, to reduce delays, that action would focus on managing capacity, such as by imposing flow rate reductions at JFK, EWR, and LGA. It would also focus on encouraging airlines to shift capacity back to PHL, DTW, PIT, CVG, CLE and other airports that are operating far below what they were designed to serve.

Ponder this fact, too: how is it that when we look at a top-ten list of delay airports from 18-years ago, we see that 80% of those airports have since scaled down while most populations have grown? How is it we are told by FAA and industry that airports and aviation are economic gold-mines, and yet this alleged booming industry is declining nearly everywhere? How much of the FAA/industry sales pitch is hot air and propaganda? Is there anything we are told by these players that reflects reality and nurtures an informed public process, serving everyone and not just corporate interests?

Hubbing Strategies Increase Impacts, But Do Not Create Sustainable Airline Profits

Airline stocks have been tanking lately, in no small part due to strategy shifts by United. In a nutshell, United is trying to design a broad restructuring of its three domestic-focused hubs in Chicago, Denver and Houston. Why? Because this trio of domestic hubs “…has profit margins that are 10 percent below the inland domestic hubs operated by American Airlines Group Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc….”

The situation is discussed in this Bloomberg article (click here to view source, or view the archived PDF copy below).

Click on the image below for a scrollable view; the PDF file may be downloaded.

What is the most consequential quote in the article?

“As part of its strategy, United is boosting connections in its three mid-continent hubs by an average of 17 percent by adjusting its flight schedules, a process it’s completed in Houston and will commence in Chicago next month.”

In this one quote, United is making it clear that, for all major U.S. hubs, traffic growth is NOT about customer demand; it is airline schedule tweaking, to increase profits, that is causing the huge impact increases at major hubs, especially at KBOS, KJFK, KDCA, and KSEA.

Which airports/hubs are most monopolized?

Here are the main hubs for the four largest airlines:

  • American: Charlotte [KCLT], Dallas-Ft Worth [KDFW], Miami [KMIA], and Philadelphia [KPHL]
  • Delta: Atlanta [KATL], Minneapolis St Paul [KMSP], and Salt Lake City [KSLC]
  • United: Cleveland [KCLE], Washington-Dulles [KIAD], and Houston [KIAH]
  • Southwest: Baltimore [KBWI], Dallas-Love [KDAL], and Chicago-Midway [KMDW]

Most other major airports are either smaller market and dominated by Southwest, or they are duopoly hubs. Four duopoly hubs that stand out are:

  1. Denver [KDEN] – Southwest and United
  2. Chicago O’Hare [KORD] – American and United
  3. Phoenix [KPHX] – American and Southwest
  4. Sea-Tac [KSEA] – Alaska and Delta

Will hub concentration reduce over time?

No, not likely at all. The level of industry scheduling collusion, and the absence of real regulatory oversight, ensure this trend toward hub concentration will continue to intensify. As an example, look at the hub concentrations for 2013 data, at this aiReform Post. Note that nothing has changed: at the bulk of these 77 airports, monopolies and duopolies have only strengthened in the past four years.

A NextGen Noise Victim Imagined Receiving This Letter…


…it’s not a real letter, just what they assumed they would hear from FAA and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ), if there was a rare case of authorities simply being honest and speaking the truth. In this example, they might be a sleep-deprived resident of Flushing or Malverne or Roslyn; somebody sick of the ‘Arc of Doom’, or the TNNIS Climb, or other ATC procedures issued to jam repetitive airline flights low and slow and loud, in and out of the hub airports at LaGuardia and JFK.kjfk-20161129scp-wake-up-residents-of-nassau-county-hypothetical-letter-by-faapanynj

Obviously, the noise onslaught needs to end, and the Av-Gov players (FAA, airport authorities, airlines, etc.) need to adopt new policies and standards that properly consider noise and air pollution impacts.

‘Sitt on itt’, Joe!

Crain’s New York Business recently published an Op-Ed by Joe Sitt, Chairman of the Global Gateway Alliance (GGA). The Op-Ed offers the predictable slanted view coming from a lobbyist for airport expansion and non-regulation: essentially, GGA’s position is that all three major NYC airports (KLGA, KJFK, KEWR) should be expanded further to remove capacity restrictions that diminish profits, especially in the hotel/tourism industry. Ironically, while the streets and neighborhoods of NYC are perhaps the most congested in the nation, Sitt and GGA complain about airport congestion and want to increase passenger counts … which clearly will further congest the streets and neighborhoods of New York City. It seems that money rules (and people suffer) in too many parts of this nation.

A PDF copy of the Crain’s Op-Ed is provided below, complete with an aiREFORM footnoted rebuttal of Mr. Sitt’s statements. Further down in this Post, the footnotes are expanded, to include relevant links and graphics.

Click on the image below for a scrollable view; the PDF file may be downloaded.

  1. Candidates are known to say all sorts of crazy stuff when campaigning. they are also known to always speak positively about creating jobs. During the 2016 campaign season, infrastructure was pushed as a palatable way to create jobs and keep money within our borders. More often than not, though, whenever large sums were proposed for infrastructure (such as this $1 trillion figure) there was little if any reference to airports and aviation. Why not?
    KJMR.20110419scp.. 'Notice to the Citizens of Kanabec County' (full page ad, posted at Scribd by FreedomFoundationMN)

    (click on image to see the in-depth Post about Mora’s new crosswind runway… including maps, pictures, studies, articles, etc.)

    Because aviation is the one area of infrastructure that actually has a very rich revenue base, in the tens of billions in taxes/fees collected (with the majority paid on each leg flown by each airline passenger); indeed, this slush fund is so deep, DoT and FAA are pushing construction of unneeded runways at the most remote locations (see for example the Post about the new crosswind runway at Mora, MN, built in a wetland used by migratory waterfowl!). And, it gets worse: FAA funds and eminent domain were used to acquire lands for this runway.

  2. Much has been written about the waste and cronyism behind public-private partnerships. Likewise, it is worth noting that ‘private investments from tax incentives’ are essentially a cost-shift, putting the cost burden onto others (while the corporations get their projects and the elected officials get campaign funds and future consulting gigs). In other words, the ‘tax incentive’ aspect of these deals all too commonly reduces down to elected officials saying; “…well, Mr. CEO, your corporation will not have to pay these taxes – that’s our incentive to YOU – and, instead, we’ll just collect these taxes from everyone else … the regular Joe’s who are not part of this deal. Cheers!!”
  3. The delays at these three airports (KEWR, KJFK, and KLGA) will not be resolved by so-called ‘modernizing ATC’. Sitt and others need to demand that FAA actually ‘manage’ the capacity at the most congested airports. Key solutions would include:
    • impose strict (and much lower) limits on operations per hour. Set these rates low enough and, even in the crappiest weather, you will NEVER see JFK or LaGuardia or Newark backing up. You would also eliminate the enormous loops commonly flown, such as the infamous JFK ‘Arc of Doom’. And, the unseen enroute delays at cruise altitude (typically 30-60 flight minutes prior to landing) would also be substantially reduced.
    • disincentivize indirect two-leg (and even longer, less direct) flights, by setting fees appropriately. For example, set passenger fees directly proportional to direct distance flown from origin to hub stopover (to other hub stopovers) to destination. If a direct flight is 1,000 miles but Airline X sells an itinerary that is 2,000 miles, let the passenger and/or airline pay twice the fees for a direct flight.
    • while the Arctic melts (IN MID-NOVEMBER!) it sure would be appropriate to disincentivize fossil fuel consumption. Simplest solution: impose a steep carbon tax, focused initially on the aviation sector.
    • Some have offered yet another brilliant disincentivizing proposal: let air passengers fly their first flight in a calendar year with a small fee (or even zero fees), but step up fees for subsequent trips. For example, a 10% fee on the first trip could become 20% on the second and third trips, and 30% on all additional trips.
  4. Sitt (and GGA) want the NYC airports to build more runways, like they now plan to do at London’s Heathrow. The problem at Heathrow is that the airport is the top hub for through-passengers between North America and Europe. This third runway does not serve the local residents as much as it serves the airlines seeking to ratchet up profits at Heathrow, with the massive through-passenger processing done under the hub concept. A third Heathrow runway will ratchet the local economy minimally upward, but will maximally diminish health quality of life (in terms of noise, congestion, and reduced air quality) for hundreds of thousands of residents. The exact same scenario is happening in the NYC area: FAA is aiding profit-seeking airlines to abandon all environmental regulation (i.e., decades-old noise abatement procedures) to increase ‘hub throughput’ and thus slightly increase corporate profits.
  5. No, what REALLY intensifies the problem of delays cascading out of the NYC airports is that FAA and the airlines are simply scheduling too many flights into too little time each day. The current scheduled traffic levels, all aimed at aiding airline profits via hubbing (accommodating through-passengers who never even leave the airport!) guarantees delays every day. This is a no-brainer. If you or I were trying to manage a congested road area, we would figure out how to REDUCE vehicles, not INCREASE vehicles. But, in this case, as demonstrated by Sitt, the pursuit of profits makes us blind to pragmatism.
  6. The Partnership for New York City study is not only an extremely biased joke, it also contains substantially false data. A table within (here’s a link to an archived copy; see Figure 1 at page 10 of the 37-page PDF file) cites FAA as the source for figures showing annual growth in airport operations at the three main NYC airports. The data is false; the real data, available online at FAA’s ATADS-OPSNET database, proves the P4NYC report grossly exaggerated annual operations. According to the P4NYC report, which was done in February 2009, annual totals peaked in 2007 at 1.45 million operations; but, ATADS shows the true figure was 1.30 million. Furthermore, FAA’s ATADS shows this count declining, with the latest figure (1.23 million, in 2015) down 5% from the peak in 2007.
  7. This line gets the ‘BullSitt Award’. Here, Sitt is citing the same-old false argument, that today’s controllers are burdened with equipment from the 1940’s. This is incredible disinformation. The fact is, the radar system has advanced through a series of improvements, in basic technology (vacuum tubes to transistors to integrated circuits to microprocessors and massive data storage/manipulation capacities), in regulations imposed by FAA (requiring transponders, defining airspace boundaries, requiring sophisticated avionics systems for collision avoidance and navigation, etc.), and in FAA’s development of GPS routes (WAY BACK IN THE MID-1990’s!). At the same time, though, the use of this blatantly false argument strongly suggests how P4NYC is collaborating with FAA, Airlines for America, and other players to sell the fraud that is NextGen.

When Viewed Through Cash-Colored Glasses, ‘Clouds Cause Delays’

Everyday, FAA creates a traffic report, then uses social media to report expected air traffic delays.

(click on image to view source tweet)

(click on image to view source tweet)

Cute little graphics are intuitive: the cloud image means delays related to cloud layers (here listing the DC area to NYC area), and the lightning image means delays related to thunderstorms (here listing all major hubs from Charlotte to Houston).

Mindlessly, we absorb this report and feel a bit more ‘aware’ of the system managed by FAA. But, if we are a bit more mindful, and actually THINK about what FAA tweets, we have to ask: are clouds really a valid reason for delays?

The answer is obviously NO. These delays are happening routinely, triggered only by clouds. Not severe weather … just puffy, calm, benign layers and pockets of water vapor. These delays continue to happen – and at the same few hub airports everyday – but it is not due to ‘clouds’; they happen because of unmanaged capacity. I.e., FAA continues to allow too many planes in time slots that are too short.

Take a look at the weather maps for this day. In the first image, clouds are white and precipitation is green. Note the existence of both clouds and precipitation in many other parts of the nation… yet, no delays are reported/expected at most locations. Again, the delays are all happening at a select few hub airports, where FAA refuses to impose needed capacity management. All FAA has to do is impose sufficiently reduced hourly flow rates, but FAA refuses. And the consequences are significant: flights are delayed, passengers lose billions of dollars worth of their time, and communities are inundated with excessive aviation noise and air pollution, all to accommodate more flights than are needed to serve each specific community.

(click on image to view current image at ClimateReanalyzer; select the 'Precipitation & Clouds' view)

(click on image to view current image at ClimateReanalyzer; select the ‘Precipitation & Clouds’ view)

(click on image to view current CONUS infrared image at NOAA.gov)

(click on image to view current CONUS infrared image at NOAA.gov)

Although it conflicts with Congress’ original intent, the fact is that FAA serves the airlines, not the people. FAA, beholden to industry profit-interests (of the final-four major U.S. airlines, and of manufacturers, too), refuses to manage airport capacity by imposing reasonable flow-rate restrictions. Instead, FAA collaborates with their industry partners (aka, ‘stakeholders’) and creates manipulative spin/propaganda, trying to sell us on NextGen spending that creates greater impacts while producing little benefits.

FAA works to feed more money to the same industry partners who hire FAA officials when they retire. Just like the rigged U.S. political campaigns, where the system is manipulated by the duopoly parties. We suffer increasing impacts from failures that will never go away until we demand overdue reforms.

A4A’s TimesLedger Letter: Further Debunked by Pilot/Author George Jehn

A retired airline pilot, George Jehn, offers this concise critique of the latest round of A4A propaganda, and specifically the Pinkerton letter at TimesLedger:

“Pinkerton’s article is way off the mark. The airlines have had the ability to fly direct for many years, via the use of things like GPS, OMEGA, INS, etc.**These are all navigation systems used in aviation. INS stands for ‘Inertial Navigation System‘, a major upgrade in air navigation that began to dominate around 1970 … making direct routes common more than four decades ago. It is the airspace problems in the terminal areas that are created by the sheer volume of aircraft taking off and landing that cause the noise problems. And NextGen is not going to solve any of these problems. That is the built-in folly of airline ‘deregulation’. You can only stuff so many planes into a limited amount of airspace and still maintain a safe operation — and the key word is safe.

In recent years, the airlines and the FAA have been shaving the safety margins bit by bit, in many different ways and in many areas. Two examples that most people aren’t even aware of are ETOPS, which stands for Extended Twin Engine Operations. Under FAA’s ETOPS Orders (the original version was adopted in December 1988, and the revised version was adopted in June 2008), FAA allows jets to operate over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans with only two engines. If you recall, it used to be four engines, then three and now two. All of this is done to save fuel and maintenance costs. Prior to ETOPS, engine redundancy was mandatory for safety.

It isn’t a matter of if one of these twins goes into the drink, but when (think of MH 370, a twin-engine 777. What really happened there?). Also, there used to be two-thousand foot mandatory altitude separation above FL 290(twenty nine thousand feet) but now it is has been reduced to one-thousand by the FAA. And these are just two examples. There are many others. Very sad because the public is being hoodwinked by the FAA on many fronts, including noise abatement and flight safety.”

Spot on, George!G.Jehn

As a bit of background, George is a retired Eastern Airlines (and later USAirways) pilot, especially notable for the book he wrote in 2014, ‘Final Destination: Disaster. What Really Happened to Eastern Airlines’.20160305cpy.. 'Final Destination - Disaster' (cover pic, G.Jehn book on EAL)
His book offers a rare insider view at a fatal airline crash in South America, on 1/1/1985, that was never properly investigated or reported by FAA or NTSB officials. Essentially, a cover-up … as does happen sometimes, with aviation ‘incidents’.

George also was a high-ranking pilot union (ALPA) official, and his book points to the serious problem of top union officials becoming ‘joined at the hip’ with agency and airline officials. George is impressive for his knowledge and experience, but even more so for his whistleblower instincts, and his tenacity to expose and reform corruption.

A highly recommended read, if you want to better understand where politics and aviation safety conspire to corrupt.

See also:

More NextGen Spin, this Time by a NYC-area Aviation Lobbyist

Another day, another article, and yet another provable example of an unaccountable authority offering more spin to sucker the larger public. This time, the spin is offered by the Global Gateway Alliance and published by Crain’s:

20150303.. 'Worst of the worst - City's airports are dead last in flight delays' (R.Goldensohn, CrainsNewYork.com, 1p)

(click on image to view original article at Crain’s New York Business)

Yes, the NYC area has aviation delays, but the cause is not at all what the lobbyist claims. There are two lies (highlighted above) that pop out from Mr. Sigmund’s statements to yet another happy-to-publish reporter:

  1. Sigmund says, “Passengers have better GPS on the phone in their pocket than most every pilot is using on the planes flying in and out of New York-New Jersey airports…”; and
  2. Sigmund says, “They are also delayed because they use an outdated World War II-era radar system, leading to a constant traffic jam in the sky.”

Bunk on both counts.

Nonetheless, these are the core lies of the current ‘collaboration’ by Av-Gov Complex players, seeking more money wasted on NextGen. These lies are propagated not just by Mr. Stephen Sigmund (the executive director of Global Gateway Alliance) and other pro-aviation lobbyists, but also by FAA officials, union officials (NATCA, in the case of air traffic control) and elected officials (congressional comments last month by John Mica and Bill Shuster are two recent examples).

The fact is, FAA has spent tens of billions upgrading the computers that allow us to brag about what is indisputably an incredibly safe ATC system. But people like Sigmund have no idea what they are saying, when they repeat the spin mantra. Those ‘World War II’ radars used vacuum tubes and showed only tentative blips; they were operated by controllers trying to interpret static-prone crackling transmissions. The pilots sending those often unreadable radio transmissions had no onboard technologies to see hazards such as other flights or weather or even granite. The lack of technology suggested when using the phrase ‘outdated World War II-era radar system’ was corrected decades ago. And, further, all of this technology has been upgraded every few years for the past six decades … easily more than a dozen iterations of technological improvement. Not just to faster integrated circuitry and color presentations and digital processing, but also to include a robust array of automation and system redundancies (one of many great examples: ‘conflict detection and alert’ that aids controllers when they get bored and lose focus).

Frankly, today’s flight management systems and radars are so far evolved that the role of the air traffic controller has been largely reduced to sitting and monitoring, all while collecting some of the highest pay rates in the federal government. Ten years ago, NATCA was vehemently opposed to NextGen, because they saw it as attacking job security. So, why does NATCA support NextGen now? Because FAA threw them a bone: “…collaborate with us (agreeing not to oppose NextGen) and we will help you become privatized, so the current controllers can rise above the congressionally-imposed pay limit…” (currently capped at $174,000 per year, earned by thousands of FAA managers as well as controllers at the busiest facilities).

Enough is enough. This pattern of self-serving spin by aviation interests (FAA, Congress, lobbyists and even NATCA) must end. We need effective air service IN BALANCE with local community quality-of-life. We can have the best for all; we just need FAA to start doing the job expected by Congress and the Public.

See also:
  • Keep noise down, efficiency up at Queens airports – a letter to editor in the Times Ledger, by Sharon Pinkerton at lobby group Airlines for America; same date, and same ‘collaborated’ talking points as stated by Mr. Sigmund. (3/3/2016)
  • Privatization Plan Holds Promise but Gives Big Carriers Too Much Clout – a fairly moderate opinion piece, but still using the same ‘WWII technology’ talking point. One line sets a high bar: “…if a spinoff could improve the system without costing passengers more or silencing the public’s voice in air traffic control, it would be worth doing.” Yes, that would be worth doing, but with the ongoing set of self-serving players, those costs are inevitable – indeed, demonstrable at places like Long Island and Phoenix.

Airport Weather Observations (METARs) for Winter Storm Jonas

20160124cpy.. Winter Storm Jonas snow depth map (WeatherChannel)A storm for the record books, Jonas is also understood to be an indication of storms to come. And, it is not a stretch to understand the cause and effect – the link between these extreme weather events and our energy consumption habits:

  • excessive fossil fuel consumption, causes…
    • …excessive greenhouse gas accumulation, causes…
      • …geologically rapid and substantial temperature increases, causes…
        •  …a more energized weather system, with more heat energy and larger amounts of water vapor, causes…
          • …more violently-interacting air masses (hence, intensified weather).

So, in the course of just a few human generations, we are literally destroying the habitability of our waters and our air. And aviation is very much at the heart of this problem. Not only is aviation arguably the poster-child of excessive and arbitrary energy consumption, but this industry also relies heavily on fossil fuel consumption (and it does us no real benefit to take food crops out of production to grow biofuels for aviation!). Thus, our best political leaders (if we have any?!) will take note: aviation is perhaps the most logical first target within the transportation sector, for meaningful action to address our growing problem of excessive atmospheric CO2.

Weather & Aviation

Aviation safety has always depended on accurate and detailed weather predictions and observations. The international system for recording weather observations is METAR. METAR observations are recorded at least once per hour at most U.S. airports, and more frequently when conditions are changing or marginal. Although the intricate coding may feel a bit ‘geeky’, it is not difficult to learn to read METARs; see Reference Materials for Decoding METARs.

July 22, 2013: Dangerous crosswinds and tailwinds contributed to this high-speed landing and nose gear collapse for a Southwest KLGA arrival.

METARs are also an excellent resource to use, to help predict the flow configurations and thus the likely impacts on your home or community, as caused by your local airport. ATC constantly refers to METARs to make runway change decisions. In most cases, ATC selects a runway configuration that is aligned into the wind, to maximize safety. At some of the most congested airports though (LGA and JFK come to mind), FAA’s failure to stop excessive airline scheduling has created barriers to runway changes, and has thus created unsafe landing conditions. These conditions have contributed to incidents, sometimes with injuries or worse. One example: the July 22, 2013 crash of Southwest Flight #345 while landing at La Guardia.

DIY: Viewing METARs Online

Most of the larger snow-impacted airports include snowfall and accumulated snow depth in their METAR observations. The METAR observations, recorded 3-times per hour during most of this weather event, offer a fascinating and precise insight into the weather severity.

Here is a summary of snowfall totals and snow history for the ten largest commercial service airports, listed from north to south. For each airport, three blue links include the aiREFORM airport page, the current METAR (showing the last 168 observations), and the NOAA forecast:

[KBOS] — Boston-Logan Airport
Snowfall first reported at 1:54pm Saturday, ended 11-hours later at 12:04am Sunday. Snow Depth not recorded. Peak winds 35 gusting to 45.METARForecast
[KPVD] — Providence Airport
Snowfall first reported at 12:30pm Saturday, ended 10-hours later at 10:16pm Saturday. Snow Depth not recorded. Peak winds 29 gusting to 38.METARForecast
[KISP] — Long Island / Islip Airport
Snowfall first reported at 11:56pm Friday, ended 29-hours later at 4:56am Sunday. Snow Depth reached 23-inches. Peak winds 36 gusting to 52.METARForecast
[KLGA] — LaGuardia Airport
Snowfall first reported at 10:30pm Friday, ended 28-hours later at 2:45am Sunday. Snow Depth reached 28-inches. Peak winds 32 gusting to 48.METARForecast
[KJFK] — JFK Airport
Snowfall first reported at 9:49pm Friday, ended 27-hours later at 2:51am Sunday. Snow Depth reached 30-inches. Peak winds 33 gusting to 46.METARForecast
[KEWR] — Newark Airport
Snowfall first reported at 9:28pm Friday, ended 29-hours later at 2:51am Sunday. Snow Depth reached 21-inches. Peak winds 30 gusting to 39.METARForecast
[KPHL] — Philadelpia Airport
Snowfall first reported at 6:34pm Friday, ended 28-hours later at 10:19pm Saturday. Snow Depth not recorded. Peak winds 31 gusting to 49.METARForecast
[BWI] — Baltimore-Washington Airport
Snowfall first reported at 1:38pm Friday, ended 35-hours later at 12:54am Sunday. Snow Depth reached 27-inches. Peak winds 23 gusting to 37.METARForecast
[KIAD] — Washington-Dulles Airport
Snowfall first reported at 12:52pm Friday, ended 35-hours later at 11:52pm Saturday. Snow Depth reached 23-inches. Peak winds 28 gusting to 46.METARForecast
[KDCA] — Washington-Reagan Airport
Snowfall first reported at 12:59pm Friday, ended 36-hours later at 12:52 am Sunday. Snow Depth reached 18-inches. Peak winds 29 gusting to 43.METARForecast

And, here is a compilation of the METARs for all ten airports, converted into a scrollable PDF file:

This pop-out view is scrollable, and the PDF copy may be downloaded.

Next Up: The Melting

The initial snowfall and winds are just Part One of this weather event. Part Two will soon play out, as the accumulated snowfall melts and eventually flows away. Depending on how much (and how quickly) temperatures warm up, and how much rain falls onto the accumulated snow, there may be local flooding, ponding, and other problems. Airport conditions could remain untenable for many days.

See also:

NextGen’s Capacity Goals are Only Increasing Aviation Noise and Air Pollution…

…And FAA is Failing to Consider the Impacts on our Children.

(click on image to view original Tweet)

(click on image to view original Tweet)

FAA and the moneyed interests in the aviation industry (the airlines, the manufacturers, the employee unions, the contractors and the lobbyists) have been selling the spin for decades: that Aviation is a great economic engine. Well, if you spend a little time researching the facts, and if you recognize that the money invested in aviation-growth would have been invested creating jobs and quality of life in other areas of the economy, you will quickly see that this is just SPIN.

Propaganda. PR. No thanks, FAA, you have better ways to spend our money.

On top of that, there are negative consequences of excessive aviation development. Airport vicinities tend to be blighted for miles, even uninhabitable. A zone where, due to noise and air pollutants, people become sleep-deprived and burdened with asthma and other illnesses. Most residents are quick to move away; only the poorest remain behind, often because they cannot afford to leave.

Aviation noise is known to undermine focus and concentration, critically needed by students. And the air pollutants are connected to IQ loss in growing children. Here are links to the two articles tweeted in the photo above:

The air in NYC lowers kids’ IQs
by Carl Campanile, New York Post
Sharp Rise in Occupational Therapy Cases at New York’s Schools
by Elizabeth Harris, NYTimes

FAA’s NextGen Noise is Destroying Quality of Life in Flushing

It would be hard to find a community in the entire United States with more history than Flushing, just east of LaGuardia Airport in Queens, NY. It also would be hard to find a community more adversely impacted by FAA’s NextGen implementation.

This Post will look briefly at the impacts, then take a deeper look at the early history of Flushing, which was highly relevant to the American ideal of individual rights and ‘freedom’. Maybe we can find some context that can help reverse FAA’s impactful NextGen failures….

FAA’s NextGen Impacts

LaGuardia Airport [KLGA] opened in 1939, and is one of three major airports serving the New York City area (the others are Newark [KEWR] and Kennedy [KJFK]). The airport was built mostly on fill in the East River. Elevations are so low that passenger gates and runways were flooded by Hurricane Sandy, just before the 2012 election.

LaGuardia (orange square) impacts flows at both Newark (pink square, left side) and JFK (pink square, bottom-right corner).

LaGuardia Airport (orange square, top-right corner) is poorly positioned and impacts flows at both Newark (pink square, left side) and JFK (pink square, bottom-right corner).

The location of LaGuardia is highly problematic, as the KLGA flights create conflicts with aircraft flowing into and out of the larger airports at Newark and Kennedy. In fact, the incredibly circuitous arrivals we have all experienced to both airports (especially to KJFK!) are almost entirely due to the airspace conflicts created by the LaGuardia proximity and runway alignments. Simply put, in all but sunny, clear-sky weather conditions, arrivals to LaGuardia nearly always interfere with arrivals to either KEWR or KJFK. As such, the idea of actually shutting down LaGuardia would likely produce huge benefits for both safety and efficiency into and out of the NYC airports.

As a way to manage the airspace conflicts, FAA has for decades imposed limits on the total number of hourly takeoffs and landings (slots) allowed at KLGA. The airlines keep pushing FAA (and Congress) to eliminate these limits, but with no parallel runways at KLGA, the only way to do this is to abandon all noise abatement procedures. Why do the airlines want to conduct more KLGA flights? Because Delta and other airlines use LaGuardia as a mini-hub, which inflates the number of flights. NOT for passengers who want to fly in/out of the congested NYC area, but for thousands of other passengers using KLGA as a ‘passenger sorting facility’, just to pass through and connect from one flight to another. Given the congestion, this hubbing practice at KLGA is absolutely nonsensical. If FAA truly served the entire Public (not just the airlines), they would manage KLGA with guidelines that disallow hubbing, due to the airport’s unique situation.

NextGen’s most notable adverse impact is caused by the TNNIS departure procedure. Once upon a time, FAA would try to minimize noise impact. A very common strategy was to identify corridors that were already noisy (freeways, railroad tracks, industrial areas) and areas with minimal population, then design arrival and departure routes over these areas. For many decades, LaGuardia departures taking off from Runway 13 (toward the southeast) would make a right turn and proceed south a couple miles over Flushing Meadows Park. These departures would then make a left turn and continue climbing northeast-bound, over the Long Island Expressway. This was hugely beneficial as it gave these departing passenger flights an extra couple thousand feet of altitude, greatly reducing the noise impacts in the Flushing neighborhoods. This noise abatement procedure was known as the Whitestone Climb.

With the implementation of NextGen, FAA has simply thrown away their noise abatement procedures. Procedures like the Whitestone Climb that allow airports to coexist with airport neighbors are simply being ignored. Frankly, it appears that FAA made a deal with the devil: they promised the airlines that, if the airlines came on board and promised to not oppose NextGen, FAA would ‘return the favor’ by using NextGen as cover, to justify tighter departure and approach patterns, with turns lower and closer to the runways. This essentially is a workaround to no longer have to comply with the environmental restrictions and planning procedures created in the last five decades.

A 4/30/2015 ‘Queens Chronicle’ article by Laura Shepard (scrollable view below) does a good job discussing the impacts…

“John Bowne built his house in 1661 … LaGuardia Airport opened in 1939 … Now the structure, the oldest house in Queens, vibrates when jets fly overhead and the windows are coated in soot and particulate matter … This was not the case a few years ago.”

Flushing’s Place in Early U.S. History

In the United States, nearly all of us are taught at a very young age about the early history of our nation. We learn not just from our schools, but from our annual holidays. Thanksgiving is one of those holidays. It nurtures a sense of pride, while also presenting our children with values to absorb and role models to follow. We learn that the Pilgrims are an example of an oppressed group who took action to regain their freedom. A group that, in 1620, risked their lives sailing across the Atlantic in the Mayflower, primarily to exercise their religious freedom. That, of course, was just the start of what became centuries of mass migration, to ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’.

'First Slave Auction', Flushing 1655

1655: First Slave Auction in Flushing

In 1645, settlers built a new community on the eastern bank of Flushing Creek. The settlers were chartered under the Dutch West India Company, and they named the town after the Dutch city of Vlissingen, which was later anglicized to ‘Flushing’. Slaves were used for labor and, by the mid-1660’s, 20% of residents under the charter were slaves. [for more about the slavery history, see this excellent article by Tony Carnes]

Many English colonists had been drawn to Dutch settlements in North America because the Netherlands was the most religiously tolerant nation in Europe. One of the early colonists was John Bowne. Born in England in 1627, he emigrated to Boston in 1648. By 1656, Bowne had purchased land in Flushing and had started a family with his new wife, a relative of Massachusetts governor John Winthrop. They settled on the land in Flushing and, in 1659, they joined the Quaker faith, a very new religion that was being widely persecuted.

'Flushing Remonstrance' stamp

1657: the Flushing Remonstrance

Although the colonists came for religious freedom, it did not take long for religious oppression to reappear. In 1656, the New Amsterdam Director-General, Peter Stuyvesant, had imposed an ordinance formally banning the public practice of all religions except the Dutch Reformed Church. This precipitated the Flushing Remonstrance, in December 1657, when a group of thirty sent a signed petition to Stuyvesant, protesting his discriminatory ordinance. The ordinance had been aimed mostly at Quakers. Impressively, none of those who signed the protest were actual Quakers.

The attitude of authorities was reflected by Stuyvesant’s response: he removed those lower government officials who had signed, and ordered a few imprisonments. And he also proclaimed March 13, 1658 a Day of Prayer for the purpose of repenting from the sin of religious tolerance. That one may need to sink in:

“…A Day of Prayer for the purpose of repenting from the sin of religious tolerance….”

What an incredible attitude, being imposed by an unaccountable authority figure. But, Bowne and a few others rejected this attitude. More than 350-years ago, history was made in Flushing, because Bowne and his young family found no religious freedom. Here is what happened, as excerpted from Bowne’s biography, posted by BowneHouse.org:

“John Bowne is best known for his courageous defense of religious freedom. Flushing was then part of the colony of New Netherland, and its town charter, granted by the Dutch West India Company in 1645 guaranteed “liberty of conscience.” When Governor Peter Stuyvesant prohibited the practice of religions other than the Dutch Reformed Church, town leaders delivered the Flushing Remonstrance to Stuyvesant, challenging his edict, which was aimed chiefly at Quakers. In 1662, John Bowne openly defied the ban and allowed Quakers to hold services in his home. Bowne was arrested and imprisoned, and when he refused to pay a fine or plead guilty, Stuyvesant banished him to Holland, where he argued his case successfully before the Dutch West India Company. Stuyvesant was ordered to permit dissenting faiths to worship freely. John Bowne returned home victorious in 1664, and the principle of religious freedom was established in the New York Colony. His actions and those of his fellow residents of Flushing established principles that evolved into the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.”

Places Change…

…and we depend on agencies like FAA to properly manage that change. We depend, but if the agency fails, we all suffer.

FAA’s current impact upon the residents of Queens, particularly those in downtown Flushing, is both senseless and insensitive. FAA is abusing their federal authority by misapplying the NextGen technologies we all paid taxes for, to impose new procedures that save airlines a million here and a million there, while literally destroying our residential homes. Even our very oldest historic homes, like the Bowne House.

More than three centuries before FAA was created, and 350 years before FAA got Congress to approve their NextGen ‘Categorical Exclusions (CATEXs)’, John Bowne stood strong against Stuyvesant’s abuse of authority. He was forced to cross the Atlantic to be heard. Through this history, he and his Flushing neighbors created the template for what became our Declaration of Independence. And they did so a century before the American Revolution, even before George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had been born.

FAA may destroy John Bowne’s historic home, but by the grace of God, some who care will stand up, to preserve what this nation used to stand for. With a little help from Congress, FAA’s NextGen Noise Impacts can be stopped. With a lot of heart from our best citizens, FAA’s injustices will soon end.

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“At LaGuardia, they tried to make it work in the past and there’s just no effort now. How many planes can you squish into this overly congested airspace?”
The biggest insult of all is the FAA saying nothing has changed. I don’t appreciate the attitude that ‘You’re by the airport, you should expect this noise.’ … It makes me so angry to see this done to this historic, thriving community.”
– comments by Susan Carroll, excerpted from the 4/30/2015 Qchron.com article

Here is a short video with Susan Carroll addressing a community gathering at Cunningham Park, in September 2014: [transcript]

See also: