Topic Author
Posts: 422
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 1:55 am

JFK Runway Usage

Wed Aug 20, 2003 5:38 am

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?
Posts: 2436
Joined: Mon Jun 05, 2000 5:31 am

RE: JFK Runway Usage

Wed Aug 20, 2003 5:53 am


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.

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Joined: Sat Jul 26, 2003 5:06 am

RE: JFK Runway Usage

Wed Aug 20, 2003 6:01 am

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.
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Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2003 3:43 am

RE: JFK Runway Usage

Wed Aug 20, 2003 6:01 am

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!!
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Joined: Mon Jun 05, 2000 5:31 am

RE: JFK Runway Usage

Wed Aug 20, 2003 6:27 am

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.

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Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2002 10:43 pm

RE: JFK Runway Usage

Wed Aug 20, 2003 6:35 am

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.

RE: JFK Runway Usage

Wed Aug 20, 2003 6:42 am

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.
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Joined: Fri Sep 17, 1999 7:43 am

RE: JFK Runway Usage

Wed Aug 20, 2003 7:24 am

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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