• Advertisement

NATCA Air Traffic Controllers Prepare for Super Bowl Weekend Traffic Surge

As the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks prepare for the big game this Sunday, air traffic controllers in the New York / New Jersey metropolitan area are preparing as well.

 (image by NJ Star -Ledger)

(image by NJ Star -Ledger)

Air traffic controllers and other safety professionals represented by NATCA throughout the region are ready to continue a massive team effort this weekend that began earlier this week, ensuring a safe, efficient and seamless event in some of the nation’s tightest and most dense airspace.

“It’s already a very small and complex airspace, and now you have this added layer of volume,” says New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) NATCA Facility Representative Dean Iacopelli. “We’re trying to maximize the airspace and minimize the delays, and also have procedures in place to be as best prepared for this event as we can.”

NATCA LOGOThe FAA and NATCA have worked collaboratively to develop a plan for the increase of traffic, using the experiences and lessons learned from previous Super Bowl locations and factoring those in with the complexities of the New York metropolitan area airspace. They have also added extra staff to the schedules for today through Monday night (Feb. 3), however, Iacopelli explains that just because extra staff is on hand, that does not mean the number of planes handled can be increased exponentially.

“The bottom line is the [National Airspace] system can only handle so many more planes,” he says. “If we add 50 staff, we can’t add 10 times the amount of planes.”

Caldwell, Farmingdale, Islip, Morristown, Newark, Teterboro, and Westchester Towers as well as New York TRACON and New York Air Route Traffic Control Center are all expecting to be the most heavily impacted by the surge of traffic.

Controllers at New York TRACON, located in Westbury, N.Y., on Long Island, handle flights between a tower and New York Center; they facilitate departures transitioning from the airport to the Center environment and then take the aircraft from the Center environment and line them up in sequence to land at an airport. The TRACON controllers will not only be handling the air carrier flights for John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia and Newark Airports, but also flights heading to and from Philadelphia International Airport and the general aviation airports in the New York Metropolitan area, including Teterboro, Westchester County and Islip.

With MetLife Stadium only two miles south of Teterboro Airport, air traffic controllers have already started seeing an influx of traffic. The airport can accommodate up to 700 airplanes and most of the spots are already booked.

“We are staffing at full capacity; we have all controllers on duty and plan to have them work overtime. Our membership here at Teterboro Tower has been working tirelessly in preparation for the big game,” says Teterboro Tower NATCA Facility Representative Edmund Granton. “It truly has been a team effort, with a lot of collaboration among NATCA, FAA and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. We’re all working towards a common goal, and we want to make that happen as safely, as efficiently and as productively as possible.”

At Newark, controllers are expecting an increase in traffic although it will be limited due to an hourly cap. There is very limited general aviation parking and the tower expects possibly 30 to 40 extra overnight aircraft, according to Newark NATCA Facility Representative Ray Adams.

“The bigger impact on the airport will be airspace saturation,” Adams said. “Teterboro and Morristown are each located about 10 miles from Newark and share the same airspace and area of New York TRACON. Their traffic is predicted to skyrocket. The resulting saturation may cause delays at EWR.”

The FAA has increased staffing at Newark in the days leading up to the game and will do so after the game. “We are staffing our midnight shift on Sunday night with extra controllers, a traffic management coordinator and a supervisor.”

Farmingdale Tower NATCA Facility Representative Mark Abbey says the tower is normally staffed from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., but for the Super Bowl there will be staff working a midnight shift Sunday into Monday morning.

“We also worked out some new procedures with New York TRACON to expedite handling of instrument flight rules (IFR) traffic,” he says. “It is being handled as professionally as it could be, and it’s quite the collaborative effort.”

Teamsters: On the Ground, Cleaning Up After Sandy

Unions are about standing together and taking care of each other – and since Hurricane Sandy took aim at the Eastern Seaboard two weeks ago, that’s exactly what the Teamsters have been doing, 24/7.  You can read about their hard work on their blog.  Here are some of the highlights:

Monday, October 29th: “Department of Sanitation Teamsters battened down New York City before the storm hit, driving convoys of trucks to staging areas around the city and emptying and turning over garbage bins. They continued to collect trash and recycling during the storm today, and they’ll be on 12-hour shifts tomorrow to clean up debris.”

Tuesday, October 30th: “New York City Sanitation Department Teamsters from Local 831 are working long hours today removing trees from roadways, breaking apart limbs and cleaning streets as Hurricane Sandy moves on.  The monster storm crippled the city, flooding the subways and the Wall Street District and downing power lines. Hundreds of thousands of people have no power.”

Area residents started saying “thanks” on the Local’s Facebook page: “God bless all the people who are working to make our lives better after such a horrible storm.”

Wednesday, October 31st: “Parts of the Northeast are returning to normal today as Teamsters clear trees, repair rail tracks, clean up after flood damage, ship supplies and deliver those all-important iPhones.”

Fires were still burning; entire neighborhoods were buried under sand and seawater; millions were without power; and then 29 inches of snow fell.  “None of that stopped our brothers and sisters from getting ‘er done at departments of public works and sanitation, the railroads and UPS.”

Sunday, November 4th:  The Teamsters’ blog asks members across the nation for help.

“You can make a donation to the Red Cross by texting ‘redcross’ to 90999 and you will make a $10 donation.   Tom Petillo, president of Teamsters Local 125 in Trenton, NJ, is working with the IBT, Joint Council 73 and other New Jersey unions to coordinate rescue and relief efforts. He asks members to donate food, water and clothing.”

From a Teamsters member in Rockaway, Queens: “Bring shovels, gloves and give us a hand.  Don’t matter which block, just walk up and help.”

Monday, November 5th: “Teamsters sanitation and DPW members are working long, exhausting hours to get the New York region back on its feet. Many lost their homes, some lost children and a few are in the hospital with injuries. And yet they’re clearing away debris, handing out food and removing downed trees.”

“Department of Sanitation New York supervisor texted that sanitation workers are sleeping in the garages:  ‘Everyone seems better than one would expect. Some have lost everything.   Hot food has been scarce, and the workers are being fed military MREs.  Brother Michael Lewery’s home on Staten Island was damaged, but he went to work anyway. He ended up in the hospital after he was electrocuted.’ ”

Thursday, November 8th : “We delivered a truck of water and clothing donated by our members to storm-damaged Long Beach.   We went to the Martin Luther King center that, in normal times, serves as a community center and day care facility. The director of the center told us that no agency at all had been there to see them or help them yet.   This center is now serving as an emergency shelter for the community and they were in dire need of assistance. With a nor’easter coming in, they have no heat and the building had drafts and leaks that needed attention. We saw the genuine gratitude from these folks, who truly needed help. It was a proud day to be a Teamster.”

Friday, November 9th:  “The call just went out: The Red Cross desperately needs 400 drivers tonight, tomorrow and Sunday to bring relief supplies to hurricane victims in the New York region.”

Saturday, November 10th: “Teamsters are answering the Red Cross’s call to help distribute clean-up kits and supplies to victims of Hurricane Sandy. We’re getting photos of Teamsters packing and loading supplies in New Jersey warehouses. They’re also driving trucks and forklifts and shuttling volunteers all over the New York region.  This is a 24/7 operation. UPS Teamsters were out in force, doing what they do best: Delivering!”

“Brother Roy Gillespie tells us the Teamsters are renting buses from Teamster employer Jofaz Busing, and Teamsters from Local 854 are driving them to help with the bulk distribution. At noon today, a convoy of 12 trucks driven by Teamsters drove from the warehouse to hard-hit Rockaway. Another convoy of five trucks driven by Teamsters carried supplies to Staten Island.”

Sandy 11.10.12Sunday, November 11th:  “Red Cross warehouses, staging areas and distribution hubs are alive with more than 300 Teamsters and their families today. They’re all pitching in to get desperately needed supplies to victims of Superstorm Sandy in the New York region.”

“The news media is ignoring the extent of the damage, but it’s bad. At least 40,000 people in New York alone are homeless.  In Jersey City Teamsters are helping bag, load and deliver clean-up kits: Large mesh bags that each contain a blanket, work gloves, garden-size trash bags, flashlight and batteries, baby wipes, hand sanitizer and hand and toe warmers.”

“Some Teamsters spent the night in the warehouse. Some brought their spouses and children. The Teamsters rented buses to help move volunteers to staging areas and Teamsters are driving them. We’ve been hearing our experience in logistics (not to mention hard work) has been invaluable. Props to members from the New York City locals, and 210, 804, 707, 177, 282, 812, 817, 854, 730 and 177 who are helping out in the warehouse.”

“And let’s not forget our sanitation brothers from Local 831. They’re still working 12-hour shifts moving mountains of debris.”

Monday, November 12th: “Dozens of Teamsters and their families were already at the Red Cross’s Jersey City warehouse at 7:30 this morning and more were on the way to pack, load and drive supplies to Superstorm Sandy victims.  About 100,000 families suffered losses from the hurricane and the needs are staggering. Brother Roy tells us this is a long-term effort. Hundreds of volunteers will be needed 24/7 for the next two weeks to deliver supplies in the ruined communities. Chris Jordan, who handles Red Cross logistics, is asking for families to come help over the Thanksgiving weekend.”

The Red Cross put together a great Flickr gallery here that gives you an idea of the scope of the operation.

You can help the Teamsters help the storm’s victims.  Read more about their Disaster Relief Fund here.

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement