What is the Swap Learning Center ? First one should ask, why is the New York aviation market different from anywhere else in the USA ? Then one will slowly realize that disruption to normal air traffic services have far reaching, nationwide and even global impact. Airport proximity, size and runaway layout coupled with high route density makes the New York market the most complex and highly utilized airspace in the world. Once one has a perspective on the structure and utilization of this market it is easy to conclude that when weather or other events constrain normal services, unique and creative management of air traffic operations becomes essential. Although the information provided here has a New York Center (ZNY) and New York TRACON (N90) focus, many F.A.A. facilities play key roles in the success and shortcomings every day.
Welcome to New York SWAP !
What does a normal day in NY look like? Over 29 Air Traffic Control Towers including EWR,LGA,JFK and PHIL, depart over 2500 flights into the National Airspace System (NAS). Typically ZNY will handle over 8500 flights into, out of, and over the top of the New York Airspace.
Constant vigil is maintained over air traffic demand, airport capacity and developing weather conditions.
Airport Layout plays a key factor in managing this level of volume. Modern airports utilize runway layouts that allow flexibility. New York airports were not designed with this in mind. Additionally the sheer size of many modern airport layouts allow many choices when wind conditions dictate. New York airport layout and their proximity to each other create a extremely constrained environment for N90 to operate within. This creates operational dependences that limit choices and require ridge and complex route and airspace structure. When weather impacts this structure the New York operations (ZNY and N90) struggle to react and maintain overall capacity.
The entire volume of New York air traffic operation are so acutely compressed, elsewhere in the NAS a single controller would work the same volume of airspace. One Sector in Salt Lake Center (ZLC) could hold the ZNY and N90. 8500 aircraft will fly through the same volume of NY airspace vs a few hundred in ZLC.
What level of effort does it take when weather events reach the New York Airspace ?
At times Heroic !
Have you hugged you local Air traffic Controller today ? Have you said "Thank you" to your Traffic management Unit (TMU) lately ?
Non weather impacted day vs a weather impacted day. (SWAP)