Beginning at 11 p.m., Monday, February 4, air traffic controllers will use a procedure to direct aircraft that will depart from runway 31L at John F. Kennedy International Airport to an over-the-water exit corridor located off the tip of the western end of the Rockaway Peninsula.
Weather and wind directions will determine if controllers can use the manual procedure Monday night through Tuesday morning. At a community meeting sponsored by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-9th District NY) and held at Public School 114 in the Belle Harbor section of Queens January 20, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it would begin using the procedure February 21. Due to the cooperation of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, FAA was able to move up the date for implementing the procedure.
“The FAA made a commitment to the residents of the Rockaways to improve their quality of life,” said Frank Hatfield, manager, Air Traffic, FAA’s Eastern Region. “We believe that using this procedure will help accomplish that goal. Our controllers will use it when they can and when that happens, residents should see a reduction in the noise they now experience.”
Working with Rep. Weiner, the FAA has been developing a new procedure for runway 31L departures that will use flight management system and global positioning technology to allow aircraft to fly a more precisely defined departure corridor.
The underlying principle for the use of this controller-directed procedure will be safety of flight. The procedure permits aircraft departing from runway 31L to navigate a selected course that will take them out over the small water inlet between Breezy Point and Manhattan Beach.
Details of the new area navigation (RNAV) instrument departure procedure are not yet finalized. Until they are finalized and the procedure is published, controllers at Kennedy Airport and the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control facility in Westbury, Long Island, will manually issue instructions to flight crews that direct them to follow the planned RNAV departure route as closely as possible. The procedure will be used when it is operationally feasible and safety would not be compromised.
As aircraft depart runway 31L, controllers will instruct pilots to follow a course that gradually turns aircraft over the Spring Creek section of Brooklyn toward the ocean. As aircraft gain altitude, they will follow the Belt Parkway until reaching the inlet. The course will bring the aircraft just to the west of the Breezy Point end of the Rockaway Peninsula.
This will be the preferred routing controllers can begin using Monday night. The FAA is also investigating the possibility of expanding the use of this controller-directed procedure during day operations at Kennedy Airport when traffic conditions permit.
Air traffic personnel will monitor the use and progress of this procedure. There is no estimate yet available on how many aircraft flights will be affected. During the week of January 5 to 12, there were 391 departures at Kennedy Airport between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. The bulk of the flights occurred in the first two and last two hours for that time period: 11 p.m. to midnight – 137; midnight to 1a.m. – 56; 5 to 6 a.m. – 55; and 6 to 7 a.m., 84. Generally speaking, runway 31L is the runway used for most departures at this time of the year.