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Integrated Airspace Research Paper

Fri Nov 23, 2007 3:37 am

Hello Everyone,

I just did a term paper on the new NYC/PHL airspace redesign and I thought I'd post it here for any comments that you guys can give (constructive). I'm looking for any errors in what I'm explaining and reporting. Keep in mind that this is dumbed down for non aviation people. Please be gentle  Smile



A case study of the New York/ Philadelphia delay issue.

“It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced et the expression as pretty as an airport’. Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort... They have sought to highlight the tiredness and crossness motif with brutal shapes and nerve jangling colours, to make effortless the business of separating the traveller for ever from his or her luggage or loved ones, to confuse the traveller with arrows that appear to point at the windows, distant tire racks or the current position of Ursa Minor in the night sky, and wherever possible expose the plumbing on the grounds that it is functional, and conceal the location of the departure gates, presumably on the grounds that they are not.” ~Douglas Adams “The Long Dark Tea Time Of The Soul”

Joe Vermeulen
STS 3726

Air Traffic Management
In the two year period from January 2005-December 2006 23.37% of all US commercial flights were either delayed or canceled (1), of which 7.67% were attributed to the National Aviation System, and 6.81% were due to aircraft arriving late(2). The National Aviation System (NAS) has completed several studies done in an attempt to increase efficiency and eliminate delays. The two delays that I will be focusing on are defined below:
“National Aviation System (NAS): Delays and cancellations attributable to the national aviation system that refer to a broad set of conditions, such as non-extreme weather conditions, airport operations, heavy traffic volume, and air traffic control.
Late-arriving aircraft: A previous flight with same aircraft arrived late, causing the present flight to depart late.” (3)
As you can see, the second delay “late arriving aircraft” flows from the first delay. Nowhere is this issue more prominent than in the New York/ Philadelphia area. In this paper I will be investigating the proposed airspace redesign for the New York/ New Jersey/ Philadelphia areas, the relevant social groups ,how the proposal impacts the social groups and the democratic legitimacy of the FAA and it’s experts in this study.

Before we are able to examine changes to the NAS, we need to understand how the airspace is currently divided, and how this system contributes to delays around busy airports, such as John F Kennedy (JFK), Newark (EWR), La Guardia (LGA) and Philadelphia (PHL). It is important to think of the interaction of aircraft, airspace, and facilities as a technical system like any other. (for example a computer) This concept will allow us to deal with the Social Impacts of Technology, specifically what hand each social group has in the design path of the technology.
The US airspace is Divided into 20 Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC, or Center), each of which is responsible for the safe, orderly and efficient flow of air traffic through it’s airspace. All aircraft in the airspace of an ARTCC must be separated by at least 5 NM horizontally and 1000 ft vertically. In TRACON (Terminal Radar Area Control) airspace aircraft must be separated by 3 NM at 1000 ft.(4) If you were in an aircraft approaching New York in the current system, the ARTCC would set up all aircraft in “first come, first served” order into the NYC area. These aircraft would be following Standard Arrival Routes (STAR), and be descending according to the STAR’s guidelines (traffic permitting) The Center controller would then hand off the aircraft to the TRACON approach controller. He would then have to re order the aircraft so as to have the most efficiency for landing. (5) This means keeping the aircraft lower for longer than necessary, and increasing local noise while burning more fuel. While this may increase the efficiency of the runways, it reduces the efficiency of the airspace forcing controllers to find a happy medium of both ground and air delays due to runways and airspace and runways being at capacity.
On March 23 2007 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) identified “Integrated Airspace” as the preferred method in the New York/ New Jersey/ Philadelphia airspace redesign. This is expected by the FAA to improve the reliability and efficiency of the ATC system from southern Connecticut to eastern Delaware. Highlights of this new system were presented to the US congress on September 5 2007. Highlights of this new system include an increased number of Jet-Routes to reduce departure delays, and allow for more flexible routing during severe weather situations.(6). The increase of Jet-Route access points reduces departure delays by increasing the number of aircraft that can exit the airspace efficiently. In the Current System, JFK Departure traffic has to cross the departure traffic of LGA, EWR, and other local airports. This means that long ground delays occur to ensure safety, and to wait for a spot for the aircraft to open up in those departure streams. However in the new system the JFK Departures will join the same departure routes as the other traffic but at different altitudes, allowing for a “Stacked Flow” of Air Traffic out of the TRACON airspace. This means that the Center has to get the stacks sorted out in their airspace, but since they have much more room for vectoring and maneuvering, at higher altitudes this lets the aircraft climb much more efficiently and quickly than if the sequencing had to be done in the TRACON airspace(6).
Another source of delays in the current system is the inefficient use of runways due to conflicting flows of air traffic. The new system will change the air routes so as to allow more use of under used runways. Departure delays at EWR and PHI are compounded by the fact that they have only a single departure heading. This means that aircraft have to wait longer for a chance to depart. The new Fanned departure headings will allow aircraft to proceed on course faster, allow more aircraft to depart in a given time frame, and reduce emissions from aircraft waiting on the taxi-ways(6).
As I mentioned above, Aircraft are sequenced for arrival in the TRACON airspace. The new system has the sequencing done earlier by the Centers. This is an immense technical challenge because the proper sequence becomes harder to determine further away from the airport.(6) When you have multiple aircraft converging on an airport from many directions and under control of different facilities it becomes next to impossible to sequence them. In the new system, Sequences will be know up to 30 minutes earlier which means that flights will remain higher, for longer periods. ATC actions to sequence flights are done at Higher levels, reducing noise, fuel burn and emissions.
Other benefits of the new system will include:
saving of $248 Million in operating costs*.
$37 Million in savings during “severe weather events”*.
Efficient handling of aircraft results in less fuel being burned.
Reduces amount of people exposed to noise of over 45DNL by over 600,000.
Now that we are familiar with the current, and new systems of ATM, we can look at how the social pressures are reflected in this proposal. It is important to identify some of the relevant social groups, and since air travel is such a complex topic, I will simplify them into the following categories:
Residents. These are the people who live around major airports, and under the approach paths of these airports. They are directly effected every day by living near an airport due to noise or pollution. Example, community groups who are involved locally to bring local issues to the attention of airport authorities.
Airport Users. This group includes everyone who uses airports for the purposes of air travel. Example, The Flying public, Shippers using air freight, Postal Services, etc.
Workers. This group includes everyone who makes a living directly because of the airport, airlines or the air transport system. These people answer to the Managers of the corporations, or to the Government. Example: Pilots, Flight Attendants, Aircraft Manufacturers, Ground Crew, Customs Workers, Cleaners etc.
Air Traffic Control. This group are the Air Traffic Controllers, who answer directly to the FAA.
Managers. This group includes the managers of the corporations that own or run airports, the managers of airlines, or other corporations related to air travel. These groups are accountable to shareholders, boards of directors or the Government.
The Policy Makers. This group is the people who make the decisions related to air travel, Air Traffic Control, and Airline Management. This group is accountable to the Government, and directly accountable to the public. Example, FAA, The US Government (DOT)
These six groups may have similar or different ways of determining if the proposed new system of ATM in the NYC/PHL area is working. I have included information related to accountability in the breakdown because if we know who is accountable for what actions, we can know how the development path of the new ATM technology.
As part of the FAA’s scope in the redesign study of the NYC/PHL area, the FAA was required to “Rigorously explore and objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives”(7) The two alternative proposals were:
Modifications to existing airspace. This includes changes to the routes and procedures that improve efficiency in the current system, Including new departure headings and oceanic routings out of La Guardia.
Ocean Routing Airspace, This alternative was proposed by the New Jersey Citizens for Environmental Research. It has all departures from EWR turning out over the ocean before proceeding on course. This alternative would reduce noise and environmental aspects on New Jersey residents. The FAA stated that “ This alternative does not meet the purpose and need of the redesign project , but the FAA elected to include this alternative for analysis due to the concerns of the New Jersey Coalition Against Aircraft Noise.”(8)
The second proposal clearly has been influenced by the local residents around the airports. Assuming that technological change is derived from social pressures as opposed to technical logic(9), we might assume that the social pressure on the FAA from the hundreds of thousands of people that are effected by the changes in the NY/NJ/PHL airspace redesign would have a very big impact. So assuming that the NJ citizens wield strong social pressure to reduce noise in their communities, how can the FAA justify ignoring their proposal? The concerns of only one social group cannot measure up to the combined interests of the other five social groups. For example, Airlines only make money when the aircraft are flying. The longer the aircraft have to sit on the ground, the more money they lose. Airlines operate very strict schedules, and one aircraft being delayed on departure can impact the entire flight schedule, causing “Late Arriving Aircraft” Delays. Another example is the flying public; there is immense pressure from the flying public to reduce delays, and costs. Since costs from delays effect ticket prices, the public pays for the delays directly. Air Traffic Controllers, and some of the public realize too that delays in one area of airspace can effect flights across the country. For instance if it is foggy in NYC the airspace there gets over full, backing up arrival streams into neighboring ARTCC airspace. If a flight from, say, Texas to the UK has to fly through one of these ARTCC’s that are clogged from NYC arrivals will be delayed. In turn the next flight of this aircraft, say from London to Dubai, is also delayed, and so on.
SCOT now begs the question, why does the Integrated Airspace alternative seem to work better?(9) I propose that the new alternative leads in three major areas that benefit all 6 social groups. These areas are; Airspace Efficiency, Environmental Impact, and Noise Reduction.(10)
Integrated Airspace is the clear winner in an operational comparison of all of the proposals. The flexibility in routings will save 12.6 minutes in delay times per flight per day. The Maximum Sustainable Arrival and Departure Throughputs are 238(A) and 245(D). The end of the last arrival rush would be 23:00, as opposed to 23:54 for every other alternitive (meaning that none of the other alternatives impact operating hours at all. The projected arrival delay in 2011 will be 19.9 minutes, and departure delay will be 19.2 minutes as opposed to 22.9 and 23.3 respectively If the airspace remains unchanged. It will reduce controller voice communications between facilities from 525 to 382 per hour, and balance controller workload to within 0.3% (11) The above benefit not only the flying public, but the airlines, and controllers. Due to more traffic flying through the airports, airport staff and facilities are used more, providing more income and sustaining jobs at the airports. The policy makers will have created a workable system that is meeting projected traffic needs in the next 5 years. The Residents benefit from reduced emissions and noise around the airports.
Noise impacts will effect more citizens, however due to the re routing of aircraft overall noise levels for those impacted will be reduced in the areas around airports. For areas underneath arrival and departure routes, noise changes are for the most part significantly reduced. The FAA determined that the compromise between increase of people effected and the reduction of overall noise level was acceptable.(11)
A major democratic concern of these governmental reports is the fact that they can be done completely behind closed doors. This can lead to issues of democratic legitimacy. However this is not an issue with regards to this airspace study. The FAA held a series of 32 public redesign workshops, 28 public meetings, meetings with local authorities and airspace experts. Drafts were sent to citizens and members of all forms of government for comments and review. A further 30 public meetings were held to review the formal proposal. 71 meetings were held to discuss the noise mitigation issues. (11) I feel that this openness and close contact with all interested parties allows the FAA to implement it’s strategy with no concerns about democratic legitimacy. In addition, because the results of expert studies were made public, there is no democratic issue with the experts who conducted the formal studies.

In this paper I have investigated the proposed airspace redesign for the New York/ New Jersey/ Philadelphia areas, the relevant social groups and how the proposal impacts them and the democratic legitimacy of the FAA and it’s experts in this study. I hope to have demonstrated how the modification of this airspace will reduce delays at the relevant airports, and in the National Aviation System in general.

End Notes
*amounts in USD
US Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics http://www.transtats.bts.gov/OT_Delay/OT_DelayCause1.asp?pn=1
US Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics http://www.bts.gov/help/aviation/html/understanding.html#q4
Some TRACONS have a waiver to reduce horizontal separation to 2.5 NM
This has to do with Wake Turbulence, which basically means that if you have a big aircraft landing, you have to wait longer to land a smaller aircraft than you would have if the smaller aircraft went first.
FAA NY/NJ/PHL Metropolitan Area Airspace Redesign Record of Decision Powerpoint. http://www.faa.gov/airports_airtraff...ance/eastern_reg/nynjphl_redesign/
FAA Record of Decision NY/NJ/PHL Metropolitan Area Airspace Redesign Sept 28 2007. US Department Of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration
FAA fact sheet “ FAA Identifies Integrated Airspace as the preferred alternative for the NY/NJ/PHL redesign. March 23 2007 www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsid=8407
Brunn and Hukkinen pg. 101
In reality you don’t really need the second and third area because they both flow from the first. For the sake of proving the benefits to all social groups I have included them.
Comparison information attained from the Final Environmental Impact Statement, July 2007 available at www.faa.govWork Cited
Ashford, Norman et al. Airport Operations Second Ed. ( NY: McGraw - Hill 1997)
Brunn, Henrik et al. “Crossing Boundaries: An Integrative Framework for studying Technological change” Social Studies of Science Vol. 33, NO.1, Feb 2003, 95-116
De Neufville, Richard et al. Airport Systems: Planning, Design and Management (NY: McGraw - Hill 2003)
Jasanoff, Sheila “(no?)Accounting for Expertise,” Science and Public Policy Vol. 30 no.3 June 2003 157-162
Mackenzie, Donald et al. “Introductory essay: the social shaping of technology” in Donald Mackenzie and Judy Wajcman (eds), The Social Shaping of Society, Second Ed. (Buckingham: Open University Press, 1999), 3-27.
Nolan, Michael S. The Fundamentals of Air Traffic Control (Belmont CA. Wadsworth Inc, 1990)
Pool, Robert, “Choices” Beyond Engineering: How society shapes technology (NY: Oxford University Press, 1997), 149-167
Turner, Stephen “What is the problem with Experts?” Social Studies of Science Vol. 31 No.1 Feb 2001 123-149
US Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics http://www.transtats.bts.gov/OT_Delay/OT_DelayCause1.asp?pn=1
US Federal Aviation Administration www.faa.gov
US Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation Record of Decision September 28th 2007
Winter, H. Et al (Eds) Advanced Technologies for Air Traffic Flow Management (London: Springer Verlag 1994
US Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation Final Environmental Impact Statement July 2007
US Federal Aviation Administration Press Release “ FAA Identifies New Way To Handle Air Traffic” March 23 2007
US Federal Aviation Administration Fact Sheet “FAA identifies Integrated Airspace Alternative as the Preferred Alternative for the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia Metropolitan Area Airspace Redesign”
Winter, H. Et al (Eds) Advanced Technologies for Air Traffic Flow Management (London: Springer Verlag 1994
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RE: Integrated Airspace Research Paper

Fri Nov 23, 2007 6:19 am

Quoting YYZatcboy (Thread starter):
saving of $248 Million in operating costs*.
$37 Million in savings during “severe weather events”*.

You know...I wonder where they get these numbers from. I did a similar paper on the integration of ADS-B into this same area, utilizing the effectiveness of this program plus the added benefit of separation for the controllers and I came across the same numbers.

Interesting look on the socioeconomics of the area. But one thing you definately left out and that any interest groups will hound you for is the environmental affects of the region.

Over all it was a decent paper. You seemed to jump around a bit. Set up the problem, explain your variables, and give your solution. At one point you were explaining the current situation and then all of a sudden you said what you would be doing in the new set up. Keep it concrete in your writing. Do it as past (history of the event), present (the current problem), and future (how to fix it).

You have very well spoken language and grammar in there. Fix it as I have said and you will have an extra ordinary paper!

Look ma' no hands!
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Posts: 1012
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2005 2:15 am

RE: Integrated Airspace Research Paper

Fri Nov 23, 2007 2:33 pm

Thanks. The paper was supposed to be sort of in two parts, describe a technological system, and then apply social science to it.

The environmental Assessment that I found at the FAA said there would be little to no environmental impact other than in noise. Do you have any info that I missed?

DH1/3/4 MD11/88 L1011 A319/20/21/30/80 717 727 735/6/7/8/9 744 762/3 77E/W E40/75/90 CRJ/700/705 CC150
J/S DH8D 736/7/8

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