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Airlines Force FAA to Halt New N.Y. Holding Procedures; FAA May Still Be Foolish Enough to Try Again Today - (12/31/2008)

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 – After a one-day delay due to a controller shortage, the Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday rammed through its ill-advised and inefficient new airspace procedures for a holding pattern above New York. But the plan lasted all of a few short hours before the FAA was forced to terminate it.              

The reason? The airlines complained about it, saying it was resulting in more delays than before, longer flying time and increased burn of expensive jet fuel which passengers continue to be charged more for to help the airlines’ bottom lines.              

“If you want a group of poster children for the failed mess of waste, fraud and abuse that the FAA has become, look no further than the wretched individuals who concocted this harebrained scheme which took into account neither the controllers’ well-reasoned objections nor the best interests of the airlines and the air travelers the agency professes to serve,” NATCA President Patrick Forrey said.              

At 6:45 p.m. EST Tuesday, the FAA issued this bulletin on its daily log: “CAMRN HOLDING PATTERN PROCEDURES HAVE BEEN TERMINATED. THIS WAS DUE TO A COMPLAINT BY US AIR ON THE DITCH DEPARTURES WHICH ADDED ADDITIONAL MILEAGE, EFFECTING (sic) THE FUEL REQUIREMENTS HAVING AN ADVERSE EFFECT ON THE INTERNATIONAL DEPARTURES OUT OF PHL. ALSO, CONCERNS OF N90 DIXIE DEPARTURE ROUTES WAS TAKEN INTO THIS DECISION.”   

“DITCH” is a departure fix used for aircraft from Philadelphia headed to destinations in the Northeast and overseas. These departures are being rerouted further north when the holding pattern in question is transferred to New York TRACON. This is specifically what impacted US Airways on Tuesday.   

“DIXIE” is the fix used for departures out of Newark and nearby satellite airports, like Teterboro, primarily to Caribbean destinations and the over-water routes to Florida. It is used for European destinations when the winds are further south. Continental Airlines is the biggest airline user of the DIXIE departure fix and New York controllers were told this morning that Continental complained as well on Tuesday night about the FAA’s controversial new plan.                   

There has been no word given from FAA managers to controllers at either New York TRACON or New York Center as to whether Tuesday’s termination of this holding procedure is temporary or permanent. 

“But given this agency’s remarkable ability to continually shoot itself in the foot,” said Forrey, “we expect they’ll probably try this again. At this point, it’s up to the airlines to get more actively involved to try and stop it once and for all. We’ve done all we can do to warn them that FAA management is trying to needlessly delay their passengers and waste their expensive fuel in order to give the false illusion that they are actually trying to do something for the good of New York airspace redesign.”


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