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Weather Scenario: Snow At Jfk Airport


The airline has an international operation using five twin-engine, wide- body, long-range aircraft (registrations/tails designated WBA-WBE). The capacity of the aircraft is 350 seats. Minimum turnaround time between passenger flights is 90 minutes. Refer to Figure 6.1 opposite.

Scenario Description

The time is 1700 UTC. A snowstorm is affecting New York’s JFK airport in the US and conditions have been marginal since early morning. However, the airport is not closed and traffic is still operating, although some national and regional carriers have suspended a number of services into and out of JFK. Due to the high volumes of traffic in the area and the requirement for instrument approaches, several aircraft have been placed in holding patterns around JFK. WBB operating Flight 811 DXB-JFKis scheduled to arrive JFK at 1800. Flight 811 was dispatched from DXB with sufficient fuel for three (3) hours’ holding using CLE (Cleveland - 370 NM west of JFK) as the alternate tor JFK. АТС have just advised the aircraft that they can now expect three (3) hours’ holding at JFK and at 1740, the aircraft entered a holding pattern 80 NM east.

Ioc Interaction

The JFK Station Manager has advised the IOC that 811 has been given

holding for up to three hours to the east of JFK. No further information

has been forwarded.

The IOC now needs to establish a number of things.

  • a) What is the reason for the unexpected, extended holding time? (Weather holding was expected (and was planned for, in the initial flight plan) but the concern is for the reason underlying the additional holding.)
  • b) What are conditions expected to be like both in the air and on the ground for this later arrival? (Are conditions generally improving or worsening and is that revised time accurate or just a possibility?)
  • c) What is the aircraft’s maximum holding time now at JFK? (Given the additional holding time, the expectation would be that the holding would exceed the aircraft’s capability, immediately raising the concern of a diversion.)
  • d) What alternates are valid if the aircraft holds for the three hours? (Selecting a different alternate may enable the aircraft to continue holding over JFK for longer, always with the possibility that the holding may be reduced and the aircraft given an approach.)
  • e) Are other aircraft getting approaches into JFK? (This may be a good predictor of a likely landing provided that conditions are not deteriorating.)
  • f) Crew hours may be a concern also, and pre-emptive questioning of Crewing will also determine the nearest relief crew should a diversion occur.
  • g) Would it be better for the aircraft to divert now with the hope of returning to JFK, rather than wait until the three hours’ holding time expires, then divert and subsequently run out of crew hours?
  • h) Should the 811 JFK-LAX crew be held at the hotel (to delay signing on until it is known that the aircraft will definitely land?

Refer to Figure 6.2 opposite.

JFK weather - status @ 1740

Figure 6.2 JFK weather - status @ 1740

Once the answers to these questions are received and assessed, consideration for any action begins. At this stage, though, there is little action the IOC can take, other than starting to look at options should the aircraft have to divert. A key task of the IOC is communicating with its stakeholders, so an update of the situation will be provided for the IOC functional areas (e.g., Crewing, CJM, Media). What will be of immediate concern to the CJM staff is the on-carriage - the number of connections that now may be at risk. Conversations and updates with the port of JFK and, if possible, direct with the aircraft Captain using SATCOM will help to complete the picture.

At this stage, a delay to 811 JFK-LAX is expected (as depicted in Figure 6.2), but the IOC will be reluctant to set a delay of three hours, based on the advised holding time given to WBB by АТС. Often, circumstances such as weather and air traffic conditions can change, with the result that the holding time can be reduced significantly, or alternatively, extended further. The IOC will therefore be conservative with setting a delay time as customers are advised, and staffing and resources matched with the later schedule. The IOC though, will begin to look at what-if scenarios. If WBB holds for, say, 1-2 hours, and then lands, then 811 simply operates late to LAX with no further consequence to the network. But if the aircraft were to divert, the recovery of customers and aircraft becomes more complex. At this stage, updated information will inform the next process.

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