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New York Airspace Czar Demands Misguided Change in Holding Pattern Control - (12/15/2008)

CONTACTS:  New York Center NATCA Facility Representative Julio Henriques, 631-786-3838; New York TRACON NATCA Facility Representative Dean Iacopelli, 516-356-3983

NEW YORK, N.Y. – In a purely political decision that relegates flight safety and efficiency to a lesser priority, the New York airspace "czar," Marie Kennington-Gardiner, has demanded that the airspace currently used for holding patterns to accommodate delayed aircraft into New York’s Kennedy International Airport be forcibly transferred from New York Air Route Traffic Control Center to New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) by the end of this month.

And, as has been the case throughout the tragically flawed and poorly executed New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia airspace redesign and capacity plan, one key stakeholder continues to be ignored and prohibited from participating in the process: the air traffic controllers who are the ones actually working this airspace.

"This misguided change will result in a loss of efficiency as the already overstretched arrival controller must now be responsible for not only sequencing arrivals to the runway, but watching aircraft in a holding pattern 60 miles from the runway," said Dean Iacopelli, NATCA's facility representative at New York TRACON, which is responsible for the arrivals and departures from the New York metropolitan area’s largest airports, as well as dozens of smaller local airports. New York Center is responsible for sequencing arrivals and departures into and out of the New York area.

“We are concerned that the public and the airlines are being given misleading or false information regarding the benefits of this transfer," said Julio Henriques, NATCA facility representative at New York Center. “While NATCA has not been allowed to formally comment on this transfer, I haven’t talked to a single person familiar with this idea who thinks it’s a good idea that will actually improve capacity.”

It appears that the New York airspace czar is acting on a political promise and with this demand will further inconvenience the most delayed passengers in the country. The FAA is not relying on statistical or factual data to support this transfer of airspace. 

"This unnecessary transfer will result in a loss of efficiency by removing the much needed interaction between the controller responsible for the holding pattern and aircraft traveling in close proximity to the holding pattern," Henriques said. “Anytime you make a change of this magnitude in this area, something else is affected. We are now looking at not only an increase in delays into Kennedy, but we are concerned that departures from the New York area will be delayed, as well as departures from Philadelphia and Washington, D.C."

“This change will very likely cause more aircraft to be delayed," Iacopelli said.

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