The renewed push for dual approaches at Newark Liberty International airport by United Airlines is feasible with an airspace rework, say Port Authority officials.
"Technically you could do it but you have to address the airspace issues," says Tom Bock, general manager of aviation regulatory and operational support in the aviation department at Newark airport operator the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), at the Aero Club of Washington today.
Runways 4L/22R and 4R/22L at Newark are 274m (900ft) apart, which is more than the 229m between runways at San Francisco International airport where dual approaches are standard practice, he says as an example.
However, air traffic control must carefully manage the arrival and departure corridors at Newark with those of nearby New York John F Kennedy International and Teterboro airports.
"You have a lot of conflicting airspace issues that you have to work out," says Bock.
Despite the constraints, the PANYNJ favours any way to increase aircraft throughput at Newark.
"We support any initiative that is going to make our existing real estate more efficient," says Huntley Lawrence, aviation director of the PANYNJ, at the luncheon. "Our folks in the Port Authority are actively involved in these discussions."
Lawrence directed specific questions on dual approaches at Newark to Bock.
Traffic at Newark has increased steadily to 41.6 million passengers in 2016 from a low of 33.1 million in 2010, PANYNJ data shows.
“The key we’re going to need to work on to really make the Newark hub structure work is to get to a world where we can have dual approaches and dual departures,” said Scott Kirby, president of United, in a message to employees in February.
Kirby acknowledged the airspace challenges to doing this and said it would require coordination between air traffic control, the US Federal Aviation Administration, PANYNJ and airlines to make it work.
United plans to increase traffic over Newark by increasing aircraft gauge on flights to major destinations and adding more smaller connecting points. However, this is limited by congestion at the airport.
The Chicago-based carrier is the largest carrier at Newark with a two-thirds share of passengers in 2016, Port Authority data shows.
The FAA lifted slot controls at Newark at the end of October 2016, allowing for more flights through the airport. United and other carriers took advantage of this change to increase service, however, the facility continues to face congestion issues, especially at peak times.
The PANYNJ is looking at ways to ease congestion and increase passenger throughput within the existing constraints of its airports, which also include JFK and New York LaGuardia, says Huntley.
At Newark, this includes a new $2.4 billion terminal A that could open by 2021 and new end-around taxiways that would allow aircraft to access runway 4R/22L without crossing runway 4L/22R, he says.