The Port Authority held a JFK Airport meeting, “Advancing Winter Storm IROPS Continuity”, to announce and share changes at JFK during periods of irregular operations and and invited its airport partners to provide Port Authority with feedback on actuated and proposed procedures and operations that will help the Port, JFK Airport, airlines, terminals, ground services, all partners and employees in times of emergency.
According to the Port agenda, this was forum to discuss actions and processes related to winter storms and other irregular operations, (IROPS) share Port status, respond to the International Aviation Transportation Association’s (IATA) questions and concerns, discuss implementation of recommendations from Secretary LaHood’s findings and to understand terminal operator and airlines intent to implement recommendations. Twenty two specific changes and planned improvements have been made according to the Port’s presentation. Overall the implementations of recommendations was well received by the meeting attendees with a few questions asked which the Port appreciated and assured consideration by the airport guests to be included in further interactions and decisions.
Port Authority Aviation Director Huntley Lawrence stated to the audience that “ I am excited to be here. This is a huge unprecedented opportunity to create a new environment for establishing cooperation in our community. We need to think of ways to collaborate better. JFK is the model airport for the world, and we need to seize the opportunity to support this JFK brand.” During the presentation Lawrence took time to ask for clarification to the points being made by the speakers. He wanted to be sure there were no stones unturned when it came time to understanding the specificity of the points made.
After the presentation where many questions were asked and answered, Lawrence said, “ This is good feedback. We learned what we could do better. Help us to find ways to make it work. Tell us how, and we will.”
This meeting was another step by The Port Authority of NYNJ which has embarked aggressively into the role of enhancing the customer experience of its tenants and public from many angles; one is involving the Queens communities in the JFK Redevelopment project, another is bringing enhancements to the airport passengers and the third is with the airlines and terminal related services at in New York airports. Over the last few months after recommendations from Secretary LaHood, input from IATA, and the entire airport community Port created a series on improvements and a commitment to additional actions which will aid in the IROPS continuity in emergency and weather, Port, terminal and service providers operations.
Frank DiMola, Executive Director of TFAC had this to say after the meeting, “The 30 airlines members of the Terminal Four Airlines Consortium (TFAC) support any and all customer service initiatives that improves the passenger’s experience while traveling to and from Terminal 4. TFAC works very closely with JFKIAT, the terminal operator of Terminal 4, to advance our mutual customer service goals and objectives. The success of Terminal 4 as the premier of choice for airlines and passengers speaks to the dedication and commitment of all Terminal 4 stakeholders. TFAC has expressed its absolute commitment to work with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to advance the Port Authority’s customer service initiatives in a manner that respects each airline’s individual proprietary focus on enhancing its customer service initiatives to the benefit of Terminal 4 and JFK airport”.
A synopsis of concerns and specific “go forward” approaches that were presented and discussed by Port representatives and attendees at this meeting were:
• Port management (PORT) is working with all agencies including the FAA, CBP and TSA to participate in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
• Port agrees with IATA’s recommendation of activating the EOC during “significant “ airport disruptions.
• Port will provide preliminary reports of the cause and operational impact at the conclusion of any major IROPS events to the airline community within 24 hours.
• Port agrees with the importance of an EOC Review Board, community feedback and IATA participation for ongoing assessments to insure long term success of the EOC.
This review board will consist of an Emergency subject matter expert, Port Authority Police, IATA, ARFF, Federal Agency representatives, Port operations and terminal operator representatives who are all part of the EOC.
• Port is working to formalize existing practices of equipment/resources mutual aid in times of immediate emergency assistance and will collaborate with the working group to finalize the Standard Operating Procedures.
• Port is in process of finalizing a plan for ways to inform the public for mass alerts of the airport’s operability during a crisis.
• The Prior Permission Required Confirmation process shall be employed only to the extent that in doing so, in the judgement of the General Manager, both (A) warranted by extraordinary circumstances related to a storm emergency and (B) necessary for the safe and efficient operations of the airport. In accordance with the FAA CertAlert 18-01, the issuing PPRs will be accomplished corroboratively with the EOC but given the advisory nature of a NOTAM, the Port seeks airport partners input to find an acceptable solution that will mitigate surface congestion at JFK.
• To utilize the rapid off-load of a late arriving plane if a gate is not assigned within 90 minutes of arrival, the Port is currently in process of increasing remote hardstand position to move the aircraft to free up a gate and is working on a technology approach to address the issue before this years snow season but also in the process of developing a contingency plan in place prior to November 1.
• When the EOC is activated the Port’s rule states that aircraft can be moved off gate as a last resort by designated entities. Port is working through legal, airlines’ and liability concerns and these concerns are to be discussed with terminal operators to participate in accomplishing these tasks.
• Port agrees with IATA’s recommendations for improved aircraft flow to adhere to ICAO standards and use standard internationally recognized signage whenever possible.
• Port has a plan to provide “surge buses” for the purpose of transporting airport staff to the airport during major irregular EOC activations.
• Port agrees that Baggage Resolution 753 assists in the baggag repatriation process. Port suggests that offering a 48 hour repatriation of lost baggage is appropriate while also determining that a common baggage service office (BSO) provides the required level of service. Port commented that the funding obligation does not rest with the Port.
• Port has put in place certification of staffing and equipment for aircraft ground equipment and fueling operations. JFK is willing to collaborate with IATA to encourage the airlines and ground service providers to register for the IATA safety audit for ground operations (ISAGO).
• Port has enhanced snow removal training from 8 to 32 hours and will send ops and maintenance chiefs to train with snow removal industry leaders. Port has added enhanced snow tabletop exercises that will include real worked scenarios.
• Port agrees to re-evaluate its internal tenant construction and is reviewing tenant construction standards including temperature thresh holds as specified in the NYC building department codes.
• Port approves the IATA recommendation to include international airline participation in planning calls and coordinating the inclusion of all of JFK’s airline ops centers in JFK tactical and operations planning calls.
Additional IATA observations and go-forward approach:-
• IATA states it is Important to include long haul operations into JFK planning and briefings.
-Port will begin conference calls 24 hours prior to any significant weather events and update every 12 hours if necessary to advise long haul flights with duration of 6-16 hours duration. Port is committed to working with IATA and the international ANSPs/FAA to improve data exchange regarding international flights.
• A meeting will be held with IATA, PA, AAAE, and other New England airports to develop a workable solution to NOTAMS on international diversions.
• To avoid command confusion, the JFK EOC CONOPS identifies the decision makers and collaborative process to resolve issues during IROPS operations and designates the After Action review process to identify improvement opportunities.
• Port supports the review and collaboration of the development of mechanisms and methodologies for the FAA distribution of critical aviation information for assisting international operators who do not have current access.
• Port welcomes the use of technologies and automation for increased situational awareness to assist in minimizing diversions and increased diversion recovery effort in addressing secondary impacts of anomalies.