Expert Webinar: Optimizing Airline & Airport Operations During Airfield Construction Projects


Bob Junge, VP Airport Solutions and Mark Libby, PASSUR ATC Specialist (read Bob and Mark’s bios here) discussed how airports, airlines and the FAA have evolved their best practices to deal with the extensive disruptions that construction projects have on aviation operations.

Many of the practices and software solutions described in the webinar did not start life as construction-focused – they started as snow and deicing focused, and evolved into new forms. The snow and deicing model lent itself so readily to construction management, the common elements in all the scenarios, due to the need to manage around a severe constraint in capacity at the airport – whether that capacity constraint is caused by a snowstorm, planned outage for construction, or a sudden emergency event.

Challenges for our Industry, and New Approaches for Solutions

  • As fewer new runways (let alone new airports) are built, rehabilitation of existing infrastructure is critical – but it has to be done within the context of growing demand. How to minimize impacts to capacity while improving infrastructure.
    • Optimize individual operations on a common operating platform: as each player seeks to optimize their individual piece of the aviation landscape, it is much more efficient and ultimately benefits all if they are using common data, predictive analytics, NAS visualization, and decision support tools.
    • Coordinate effectively on a common communications platform – all stakeholders, the public, etc., are under more scrutiny than ever. They must collaborate and communicate throughout the project. Getting the right information to the right parties at the right time.
    • Collaborate to manage complex, expensive operations on a common collaboration platform: optimize available capacity during construction through common operating procedures like departure metering and sequencing.

Example of the JFK Runway Project:

  • Longest runway at JFK out of service for four months (30% reduction in runway capacity)
  • Risk of extended taxi queues (already at record lengths before construction, sometimes 40+ aircraft in departure queue)

Objectives of JFK Mitigation Plan

  • Minimize or eliminate added delays resulting from runway outage
  • Keep departure taxi queues to a minimum (no more than 8-10 aircraft at any given time)
  • Minimize passenger disruptions
  • Reduce negative financial and customer service impacts on the airlines
  • Ensure all stakeholders shared and utilized data elements necessary to achieve airport efficiencies

Elements of Mitigation Plan:

  • Adaptation of the existing PASSUR departure metering program to full time construction metering, including:
    • Enhanced departure metering software
    • Development of the “Vqueue” (“Virtual Queue”) concept: aircraft hold for departure at gate rather than on active taxiway, while preserving the aircraft’s place in the departure sequence
  • New “rules of the road” that governed departure metering, developed collaboratively with airlines, FAA, and PANYNJ
  • Full use of PASSUR OPSnet (now PASSUR Airport Communicator) to keep all stakeholders fully informed
  • Fully staffed, independent “departure metering desk” that managed metering program each day
  • Weekly review meetings and daily metering reports from PASSUR software

Results of JFK Mitigation Plan:

  • 14,800 hours of taxi time reduction
  • 5 million gallons of fuel saved
  • $10-$15 million saved on fuel, based on $2 -$3/gallon
  • 48,000 metric tons of CO2 saved
  • $1 million retail revenue spending in one month, in one terminal from passengers waiting in terminal (not on aircraft)

Evolution of the PASSUR Surface Management suite today:

  • Collaboration with all stakeholders involved:
    • For example, use ATC Portal to identify future problems associated with airport closures and outages and develop plans to address those problems
  • Preplanning using the tools and solutions in the PASSUR suite – months and weeks ahead planning
  • Strategic planning – planning for the day, using triggers on data received from PASSUR to make decisions 2-4 hours in advance, again using the tools and solutions in the PASSUR suite:
    • For example, identify triggers spelled out in the plan using PASSUR products and implement the pre-planned actions strategically, in a controlled rather than reactive manner
  • Tactical planning – adjustments to the strategic plan using real-time, live data from the PASSUR suite to adjust the strategic plan to accommodate unexpected changes and unplanned events.

If you have any questions about the webinar discussion, contact Bob Junge or Mark Libby by email or call 646.335.8050 (Bob Junge) or 703.932.5509 (Mark Libby).