New York Airspace Effects on Operations

February 2000
Emily K. Beaton, The MITRE Corporation
James S. DeArmon, The MITRE Corporation
Craig R. Wanke, The MITRE Corporation
Shane L. Miller, The MITRE Corporation
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The New York area represents a unique situation in the continental U.S.—a geographic concentration of runways creates an exceptionally high demand for transition airspace resources. This has impacts on airline operations in terms of delays, predictability, and flexibility of operations in ways that affect profitability. Demand is increasing yearly, but the capacity of the physical resources has not kept pace with this growth.

This paper examines a number of attributes that characterize the region, and then assesses some of the impacts on airline operations associated with these attributes. The MITRE Corporation's Center for Advanced Aviation System Development studied the problems of New York airspace as part of an Internal Research and Development effort. Data and analyses are abstracted from this research (DeArmon, 2000).

We found that Federal Aviation Administration airspace planners and managers have responded to the congested northeast situation by using fine-tuned narrow sectorization to accommodate arrival and departure flows specific to the busy commercial airports Newark International, New York-Kennedy, New York-LaGuardia, and Philadelphia International. However, this very tight allocation of airspace creates a "brittle" system. Small changes in conditions often result in major impacts on the airlines such as airborne holding and ground stops for departure flights. Also, airlines have less chance for flexibility in planning, being granted fewer user preferences in routes and route amendments.

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