FAA-Union Collaboration Advances N.Y. Airspace Redesign
Thursday, February 03, 2011
Below is a joint article by NATCA and the FAA featuring the issue of airspace redesign:
December 29 — Thanks to collaboration between FAA management and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, a key stage of the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia Airspace Redesign has been improved and is on its way to implementation.
The collaborative effort was made possible by Article 48 of the current NATCA contract. The article created a formal process for NATCA and management to work together on air traffic concerns at all levels.
"We haven't had this level of collaboration for several years," said Robert Novia, manager of the Airspace Redesign. "This is one of the first major efforts where we're using Article 48 to tackle some very complex technical issues between multiple facilities."
Timon Kalpaxis, a controller at New York TRACON and the lead NATCA representative on the work group, said "having the right people involved at this point, people who are running [the operation] day in and day out, it gives it the proper perspective that it needs."
Representatives from the three facilities that will see changes under Stage 2A of the airspace redesign — Boston Center, New York Center and New York TRACON — met for several weeks in October and November to "review, assess and refine" the design, according to Novia.
Their recommendations for Stage 2A feature changes that should increase the efficiency of moving airplanes out of and through the New York area. They include adding a fifth departure fix for flights heading west, rerouting departures from John F. Kennedy International Airport, and dedicating a route for flights going through the area to Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C.
The changes are scheduled to be implemented in October 2011.
Kalpaxis said the airspace redesign requires incremental change if it is to be accomplished safely.
"We're essentially changing a tire on a moving car," he said. "We have to manage a system at the same time that we're trying to evolve it."
Like Kalpaxis, Novia thinks that the appropriate people are working to make sure the redesign is both safe and successful.
"The best people to have at the table to figure out the solutions and optimal designs are the controllers handling the day-to-day traffic," he said. "Nobody knows the operation better than them."
For four weeks, 12 controllers gathered in suburban Washington, D.C., to run simulations looking at a variety of ways to adjust the airspace to handle the new routes. In the end, everyone agreed on a hybrid design for State 2A that pulled elements from a few of the different options.
"It took a lot of focus. It took objectiveness and open-mindedness. It took a system perspective," Novia said.
Between now and the implementation date, the airspace changes will be built into the automation platforms at Boston Center, New York Center and New York TRACON, multiple letters of agreement between the facilities will be changed, a rulemaking action will be completed for new airways and controllers will be trained to handle the new airspace.
The full Article 48 work group for the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia Airspace Redesign includes NATCA and management representatives from all the facilities affected by the redesign — Boston Center, New York Center, New York TRACON, Philadelphia TRACON, Washington Center, Potomac Consolidated TRACON and Cleveland Center.