RNC is big elephant in the room for TEB

 - April 2, 2007, 6:41 AM

How will business aviation operations in the New York City area be affected by the Republican National Convention (RNC) at the end of next month in these security-conscious times? That was a headline topic at the May meeting of the Teterboro Users and Operators Association (TUG), which stays on top of issues affecting those who do business at the New Jersey airport.

In addition to the special rules, regulations and restrictions that will apply during the Republican Convention in New York from August 30 through September 2, topics discussed included plans to prepare a white paper detailing how Teterboro Airport serves the community and enhances the economic well being of the area; issues involved with speeding movements at the facility; and an update on plans to build a Ferris wheel within two miles of a runway, which would extend above the glidepath of the VASI.

Teterboro is only seven miles from Manhattan, which places it in a highly sensitive area. “We are committed to keeping Teterboro open during the RNC,” TUG president Peter Bellini told members. All of the security agencies, including the FBI, are involved in setting up procedures to ensure that.

“Any aircraft that makes a turn from Teterboro toward New York [during the RNC] will cause the immediate closure of the airport,” Bellini advised his members. “And the aircraft will be in danger of being shot down. There will be fighters in the area.
“There will be no general aviation operations at La Guardia during the four days of the convention,” he reported.

“No helicopters will be permitted to land at Teterboro during that period without making a stop to gain clearance. Helicopters approaching from the east will be required to stop first at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, Long Island. Those approaching from the west will have to stop at Morristown Airport. Those rules will apply both to transient and based aircraft.”

All New York heliports will be closed on Thursday, September 2, when the President will be in town. The Secret Service has not yet determined the status of the heliports during the other three days of the convention, according to New York ATC officials. But the Port Authority said the Downtown Heliport that it operates, formerly the Wall Street Heliport, will be open during those three days.

“One-hundred-and-fifty screeners will be required to service the five FBO terminals at Teterboro, which will each have portable screening machines,” Bellini said.

He indicated that many changes might still take place before the convention opens.
Another issue Bellini discussed was the plan to prepare a white paper that would document Teterboro’s role as a major transportation facility that makes huge economic contributions to the surrounding area. It would also be designed to present answers to questions frequently asked by those in surrounding areas, such as why Teterboro needs a new tower and why there is a major reconstruction effort under way at the airport.

Bellini expressed confidence the project could produce tangible results that would benefit the airport and establish a better relationship with the community.

Another vital subject of continuing interest, the pace of movements at the airport, was discussed on two fronts.

Joanne Damato, manager of the GA desk at NBAA in Washington, D.C., discussed the use of coded departure routes (CDRs) as a means of speeding movements at the airport. The airlines for some time have used these abbreviated clearances for pre-established departure routes between high-use city pairs but their use by business aviation, which has been tested at Teterboro, is relatively new. However, CDRs for business aviation have been steadily gaining acceptance.

“The object,” Damato told TUG members, “is to get CDRs used by as many pilots as possible.”

New routes are being added constantly. For example, there are now 10 such routes available between TEB and FLL.

“The airlines can’t store all the available routes in their cockpits,” Damato said, “but Honeywell can provide GA aircraft with information on specific routes on specific days.”

Pilots should be aware that to use these routes they must put “CDR capable” in the remarks section of their flight plans. This indicates that the pilots have completed CDR training, are equipped to navigate by Rnav and can meet any special requirements, such as those for overwater routes.

Another effort to improve the traffic flow at Teterboro was revealed by Michael Goldin, traffic management officer at New York Center. “Eighty percent of the delays in the Northeast are in the New York area,” he said. “A test was conducted to redistribute traffic to determine how much it would affect the number of delays in the New York area. We slowed operations at Boston, Philadelphia and Washington for one day.

“The test was conducted on a Tuesday. The previous day, there were 580 delays in the New York area. On the day of the test there were only 205 delays. What we did,” said Goldin, “was redistribute the pain.” These findings might be used in future air traffic planning.

Goldin also emphasized that pilots flying out of Teterboro need to be aware that airline traffic landing on Newark Airport’s Runways 22L and 22R turns onto final directly over Teterboro at 2,500 feet. Therefore aircraft departing Teterboro on Runways 19 and 24 must not climb above 1,500 feet.

A 425-foot-tall Ferris wheel planned for construction within two miles of the approach end of Runway 1 was also discussed. The originally announced height of the structure would have placed it above the glidepath of the VASI on that runway.

Two project managers from Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, David Charette and Richard Burrow, discussed changes in the original plans. The height of the Ferris wheel has been reduced to 333 feet, they told TUG members. The structure was to have been built on a 70-foot podium. The project managers were not certain if the podium was being eliminated or the wheel would be smaller. The question of noise from landing aircraft affecting passengers on the Ferris wheel was raised, but they said passengers would ride in enclosed gondolas, alleviating the noise problem.

They also reported that four buildings planned for the same area that were to be 274 feet tall were redesigned so that the two buildings closer to the runway would be a few feet lower and those slightly further away would be a bit higher. The new heights would range from 266 feet to 286 feet.

Icon towers, which would have lights designed to attract attention to the complex and would carry ads, are under consideration. The program managers said they have submitted amended plans to the FAA, and they are awaiting a response.

The amusement area, known as Xanadu, would be built in four stages near the Meadowlands sports complex, which includes Giants stadium, the Meadowlands arena and a race track. Groundbreaking for the first phase is scheduled for this fall, and construction of the entire complex would probably take six years.