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NotAPilot1972
Topic Author
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:21 am

JFK Ops during winter storm (Feb 2021)

Tue Feb 02, 2021 5:27 am

(Hello, a newbie here: non-pilot, but av enthusiast. Long-time lurker.)

Tonight (approx 2200 Mon to midnight EST) I noticed that the only ops at JFK were occasional cargo departures. I believe the airport has been closed today for all commercial ops. My humble, curious questions:
1. Why only these cargo flights? (Why no commercial if it's okay for cargo departures?)
2. Why only departures? (Is it safety factor vs. landing in current conditions?)

Thanks,

Marc

KJFK METAR Weather: KJFK 020451Z 02022G30KT 2SM -SNRA BR BKN010 OVC024 01/M01 A2952 RMK AO2 PK WND 02030/0447 SFC VIS 3 RAB30 SLP996 P0001 T00061011 400061033 $
Last edited by atcsundevil on Wed Feb 03, 2021 4:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Edited title for clarity
 
Eikie
Posts: 136
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:15 pm

Re: JFK Ops during winter storm

Tue Feb 02, 2021 10:51 am

It could be that due to (a lack of) manpower, they simply can't accommodate arriving passengers.
To few immigration officiers and handling staff who could reach the airport? And how many passengers would get stuck of the miss/don't have a connecting flight?

Departing cargo (mostly) does not have those issues far less people required to operatie.
 
shamrock137
Posts: 414
Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2005 7:10 am

Re: JFK Ops during winter storm

Tue Feb 02, 2021 11:58 am

NotAPilot1972 wrote:
(Hello, a newbie here: non-pilot, but av enthusiast. Long-time lurker.)

Tonight (approx 2200 Mon to midnight EST) I noticed that the only ops at JFK were occasional cargo departures. I believe the airport has been closed today for all commercial ops. My humble, curious questions:
1. Why only these cargo flights? (Why no commercial if it's okay for cargo departures?)
2. Why only departures? (Is it safety factor vs. landing in current conditions?)


Welcome! These types of decisions are usually made by the airline vs the airport. Airports wont typically close to passenger operations vs freight for example. The airport is either open or closed. Airlines take lots of factors into account such as, what's the weather forecast, will we be able to deice, will staff and passengers who rely on public transportation be able to get in, does the airline have enough flight crews to cover expected delays, are winds below crosswind limits and will approaches remain above minimums. The FAA also has a say in determining how many flights an hour may land based on weather conditions. The same thing happens during any weather event, typically referred to as a ground delay program, where each inbound flight is held until a specific departure time to meter the number of arrivals in a given timeframe.

Typically what happened in a pre covid world was that airlines would reduce their rate of departures and arrival through flight cancelations. Say an airline had 20 flights departing in an hour just for example. If they ran a full schedule, each flight will have to wait for an opportunity to deice, so possible delay even before pushback, and with snow, deicing might take 30+ minutes per flight, then there might only be one taxi route, and the airport might have a single runway open for landing and departures so you may be holding short of the runway waiting for landing traffic. Taxi speeds will be slow with the weather, just like driving your car, so now your flight might have pushed back just 10 minutes late, but isn't taking off for an hour or more. This can cause issues where the flight needs to get re deiced of they exceed holdover, may not have enough fuel due to the long taxi, or the flight crew may exceed their duty day.

That's just an example for one flight, then you multiply that by 20 flights an hour, over 12 hours, and its just not sustainable. Heres an example of an issue similar to this in 2018, where heavy snow crippled JFK because not enough flights were cancelled.

https://www.wired.com/story/jfk-bomb-cyclone-mess/
 
VMCA787
Posts: 255
Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2020 9:31 pm

Re: JFK Ops during winter storm

Tue Feb 02, 2021 12:20 pm

Airlines don't want to get people stranded. It is not uncommon to have non-JFK based airlines cancel their inbound flights for two reasons. First, they don't want to get people stranded by not being able to make their connecting flight or if the connecting flight gets canceled while the inbound flight is inbound. Having to take care of all the mis-cons can be a very expensive proposition. Secondly, the airline runs the risk of having the aircraft stuck at the outstation due to heavy snow or icing. Even JFK based airlines will think long and hard about operating a segment into JFK and then having the same problem with passengers. Also, you have quite a few originator pax at JFK, so you run the risk of not having them make the flight due to road conditions or arriving late. By simply canceling the outbound, you take care of the rebooking all at once.

It really becomes a money issue and sometimes it's better to just cancel the flights and try the next day.
 
Weatherwatcher1
Posts: 921
Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2019 5:14 pm

Re: JFK Ops during winter storm

Tue Feb 02, 2021 2:21 pm

It’s pretty common for freighters to be flying in adverse weather when passenger planes are very limited. One of the biggest reasons is that the amount of staff and logistics to support freighters is less. The risk of the plane getting stuck is less. A freighter can be loaded and unloaded with only about 5 people in a crunch (maintenance, fuel, and ramp crew). A passenger airplane typically needs far more (maintenance, fuel, ground crew, cleaners, gate agents, security, lavatory servicing, catering, etc). Any missing person can cause a passenger flight to get stuck. If runways are open and ramp is clear a freighter can get in. There is no 3 hour rule for freight if it takes a few extra hours to get it loaded or unloaded. Unless it is temperature sensitive or live animal carriage, it is ok to have freight sit on an airplane for 6 hours if there is not ground support to load or unload.
Last edited by Weatherwatcher1 on Tue Feb 02, 2021 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
frmrCapCadet
Posts: 5054
Joined: Thu May 29, 2008 8:24 pm

Re: JFK Ops during winter storm

Tue Feb 02, 2021 2:23 pm

An unexpected consequence of the rule banning leaving passenger on a plane going nowhere for hours is pre-emptive cancelling of flights. It is much rarer to see airports jammed with passengers going nowhere and stuck at the airport, or even worse sitting in a plane on a taxiway, toilets filled, too hot or too cold, no food. Cell phones, texting, and emails have resulted in better communications to passengers. Roughly speaking, a cold shutdown in transportation before a storm cancels subways, trains, planes, freeways early and everyone is advised ahead of time. Restarting is also scheduled and it all happens in a timely manner. A hot shutdown - everything stops in the middle, chaotically. People stranded throughout. Restarting, catching up, and meeting future schedules becomes a nightmare. Oddly, I could not find a link on this subject. What is happening today at airports such as JFK is so much better handled than it would have been 20 years ago.
 
MIflyer12
Posts: 10034
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:58 pm

Re: JFK Ops during winter storm

Tue Feb 02, 2021 2:42 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
An unexpected consequence of the rule banning leaving passenger on a plane going nowhere for hours is pre-emptive cancelling of flights. It is much rarer to see airports jammed with passengers going nowhere and stuck at the airport, or even worse sitting in a plane on a taxiway, toilets filled, too hot or too cold, no food.


Not exactly. The tarmac rule (3 hrs domestic 4 hrs international) - means carriers aren't supposed to leave passengers on a plane but doesn't restrict leaving them stuck in the terminal. And passengers do get stuck in terminals. Example:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/30/us/denve ... 2%20inches.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/14/259.4

As noted above, it's a balance between operating with greatest safety (visibility and friction surfaces are impaired so it's less safe if perhaps not unsafe), operating with convenience (avoiding snow hassles, against getting crew and aircraft where they need to be for subsequent flights), and schedule reliability for passengers. Recall a certain carrier crashing in a typhoon? They didn't do it right.
 
asuflyer
Posts: 769
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2007 12:48 pm

Re: JFK Ops during winter storm

Tue Feb 02, 2021 2:53 pm

In the past the Port Authority of NY and NJ, the authority that runs JFK, EWR, LGA and SWF would let the airlines fly in as opposed to what they do now with preemptively informing the airlines to cancel flights. This would cause massive 2-3 day meltdowns almost every other year and would disrupt thousands of pax and planes. Aircraft would wait for a gate for hours, bags would be lost and would have a huge impact on crew scheduling airline revenues as well. After a big meltdown in 2018, which generated extensive media coverage, the Port Authority was told by the FAA and NY politicians that this was the last time something like this could happen. Since then they have worked on improving communications and operations during adverse weather conditions. Yesterday's storm in NYC was one of the worst in recent years in that the storm lasted over 24 hours which is unusual for winter storms.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/08/nyre ... ather.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/29/nyre ... ports.html
 
NotAPilot1972
Topic Author
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:21 am

Re: JFK Ops during winter storm

Wed Feb 03, 2021 10:14 am

Thank you all for the helpful, informative replies!
 
leoben
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed May 10, 2017 1:36 pm

Re: JFK Ops during winter storm (Feb 2021)

Thu Feb 04, 2021 4:03 pm

Additional data point:
The amount of revenue that a 5X, FX or DHL flight can generate is staggering, while the liability can be much less (several hundred lives vs. 2 yoke-monkeys and some expensive "stuff"). And if a good portion of that is time sensitive..... there is a very different motivation. Purple spent fairly big $ installing EFVS on most of the fleet just for the minimal number of occasions when it would make a difference between delivering on time and not.

As pointed out above, it is a different system form with very different operational requirements. When MEM or SDF have biblical type weather, there is some proactive pulldown of the system to facilitate a hard reset and resumption of normal ops- but not to the same extent that one sees w/ the pax carriers. The misery index is calibrated to peg the bottom of the scale. Boxes dont bitch and no one listens to the pilots complain (which is all the time), they are overpayed most of the time to compensate for when things go bad. If the aircraft can be operated w/ a reasonable expectation of safety and legality, they will go.
 
slcdeltarumd11
Posts: 5213
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2004 7:30 am

Re: JFK Ops during winter storm (Feb 2021)

Thu Feb 04, 2021 4:38 pm

Yeah this storm had it all. Heavy snowfall rates, terrible visibility and strong winds. All factors for cancelling flights. It's easier for cargo as they can sit and wait for a good window. Harder for airlines with people and needing more staff. The cargo planes do wait till the runway just got plowed and a window of decent visibility and ok winds. Hard with people to time all that. I agree so much better now to cancel and rebook. The old system didn't work you would have a flight confirmed three days after a NYC/BOS storm and the flight would get cancelled because they were so backlogged and overwhelmed days after a storm. Everyone gets home faster if you cancel day of storm and just get normal ops up asap. With the planes so empty right now the airlines were happy to cancel and easy to rebook
 
asuflyer
Posts: 769
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2007 12:48 pm

Re: JFK Ops during winter storm (Feb 2021)

Thu Feb 18, 2021 6:42 pm

The Port Authority has closed all JFK runways for 4 hours today from 13:40 hours due to ice on the runways. Today's storm turned out to produce more ice than was predicted.
 
FCOTSTW
Posts: 291
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 8:14 pm

Re: JFK Ops during winter storm (Feb 2021)

Thu Feb 18, 2021 7:25 pm

Don' t forget to call Joe Patroni at TWA !!!
 
C777ER
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2021 4:50 pm

Re: JFK Ops during winter storm (Feb 2021)

Thu Feb 18, 2021 10:30 pm

BOS got numerous diversions today

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