Starting March 1, the longest and busiest runway at JFK airport will be closed for repairs. The manager of JFK's air traffic controllers says it won't be a problem and says they are prepared for the change in operations. But the president of the Air Traffic Controllers Association says travelers should expect major delays.
Congress mandated that JFK can only have 83 flights take off and land per hour. But last summer, at their peak they were allowing 110.
In 2009 the average takeoff delay was 62 minutes, and the average arrival delay was 63 minutes. (Data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics).
The control tower is called the "cab." Each piece of paper is called a "flight strip." Each strip has the carrier id, the flight number, type of aircraft, and the flight route. Each of the strips represent a flight arriving or departing.
This is the HOST computer, which prints all of the flight strips.
This day is slow, but air traffic controllers are ready for the day JFK goes from four airstrips to three.
The tower is attached to Terminal 4.
JFK's air traffic manager, David Siewart, monitors developments from his office. He says they are prepared for the runway closure and there will be minimal delays.
Runway 13R-31L is to be closed March 1. The runway bay, which holds the flight strips, should be empty for four months.
This is where current and new air traffic controllers do their training. The equipment is the same as in the control tower and the panoramic monitors simulate conditions in the tower.
The facilities can replicate all possible weather and traffic conditions and has been helpful in preparing controllers for all scenarios.
The facilities replicate ground conditions.
Stephen Abraham points to a monitor showing the airspace above JFK Airport. Arriving planes are represented in green.
This the main computer that controls the training facilities. It's less than a year old.
Less than a year ago, controllers trained on this mat with toy airplanes.
WNYC 93.9 FM and AM 820 are New York's flagship public radio
stations, broadcasting the finest programs from NPR and PRI, as well as a wide range of award-winning local
programming. WNYC is a division of
New York Public Radio.