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JFK Runway Usage  
User currently offlineJZ From United States of America, joined May 1999, 252 posts, RR: 0
Posted (11 years 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 4966 times:

Does anyone know how they assign which runway for landing/take off for JFK? I am trying to figure out the pattern here. What puzzels me is many times up to early afternoon they will use 31R for landing and 31 Left for takeoff. Later in the afternoon, they will switch to 13L/22R for landing while 13R for take off. The wind does change direction during that shift; and there is no obvious noice abatement need. What factors are in play here?

7 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineGoboeing From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 2694 posts, RR: 15
Reply 1, posted (11 years 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 4938 times:


When it's from the northwest, 31L is used for the Canarsie, Bridge, and Breezy Point climbs which turn left over Jamaica Bay. 31R is shorter so it gets the landings. Taxiing convenience from the terminals to the active runways could play a small part in the decision, but it's still second in priority to taking off and landing into the wind as much as possible.


User currently offlinePotomac From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 713 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (11 years 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 4923 times:

yup, wind and initial departure fix. also, 31R cant be used for jet departures. and with the 4s/22s, aircraft will land on 4R/22L and depart on the inboard runway.

User currently offlineIBERIA747 From Spain, joined Aug 2003, 1831 posts, RR: 58
Reply 3, posted (11 years 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 4918 times:

This can be strange after reading all of the above...
A few months go, I flew ATL-JFK with Delta (MD11, flight DL1992) and we landed on runway 31L. 2 hours later we attempted to take off from the same runway for the JFK-MAD flight (767-300ER, flight DL126). I say 'attempted' because engine 1 failed during line-up and we had to go back to the terminal...we took off finally 3 hours later on the same aircraft and on the same runway (31L) after getting the problem fixed!!

User currently offlineGoboeing From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 2694 posts, RR: 15
Reply 4, posted (11 years 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 4880 times:

Oh, I totally forgot to mention the other sides of the NYC triangle...

After speaking to Professor Futterman, a teacher at an aeronautical college near LGA, he said that LGA and EWR determine their runway orientation in regards to that of JFK. This is done for obvious reasons--to be sure that the flight paths dont cross and there isnt a disaster over New York City.

Ultimately, though, wind does determine JFK's active runways, but it is also possible that all three local NYC airports work with each other throughout the day to make sure their decision doesn't adversely effect one of the other two. For example, you could never fly a 15 mile ILS approach to 13 L or R, because it would screw up the whole LGA situtation, at TEB probably too. Aircraft coming off the LENDY arrival wouldn't get down in time from FL190, so the current VOR approach that is used is the best option.


User currently offlineBigphilnyc From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 4076 posts, RR: 54
Reply 5, posted (11 years 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 4858 times:

I happen to know Profesor Futterman as well. Quite a guy. He's got a 15 year old son that is so annoying.


[Edited 2003-08-19 23:37:50]

Phil Derner Jr.
User currently offlineCaptainStabbin From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (11 years 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 4833 times:

Wind and capacity reasons. The 13’s and 31’s have more capacity because they are spaced further apart than the 4’s/22’s. Though the new instruments that were installed last year should have changed things and allowed for simultaneous 4/22 arrivals.

22 is almost always avoided because 22 arrivals mess up LGA’s 13 departures and they don’t have as many options when departing.

My guess is the 4’s aren’t used so much in the daytime because they can’t handle as much traffic during peak hours and 4L departures fly over a residential area. Noise abatement is better if the planes take-off from 31L and the 13’s (yes, both 13 runways are used for departures now).

As for ILS 13 L approaches, they are used on occasion (about 3-4 times a year), but only when the visibility is really, really bad and wind dictates its usage. It doesn’t mess up with LGA traffic so long as LGA uses and ILS 13 approach, but it does screw up EWR traffic. And EWR now handles the most movement of all three airports in the tri-state area, so the delays would be very heavy indeed.

User currently offlineTimz From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 6816 posts, RR: 7
Reply 7, posted (11 years 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 4783 times:

JFK is much less busy in the morning than in the afternoon. By switching to runways 13 in the afternoon they can have arrivals on 13R and 22L and departures on 13R, all simultaneous. Can't do that when runways 31 are in use.

"22 is almost always avoided because 22 arrivals mess up LGA’s 13 departures and they don’t have as many options when departing."

Maybe they don't have as many, but Whitestone climbs off of LGA runway 13 are common while JFK is using the VOR approach to 22L.

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