LETTER TO THE EDITOR, SUNDAY MARCH 8, 2020

There are several documents that are available upon request.

One additional question that needs further investigation by the Airport Authority is whether pushing to maximize the number of hourly operations is resulting in an unsafe airport? The FAA addresses capacity for each of the major airports in the U.S. and under most conditions states that SDIA capacity is between 45 and 50 operations per hour depending on the weather.


The first chart below shows the average number of operations per hour at half hour increments. For example, between 6:30 and 7 am, the airport is operating at capacity with some aircraft waiting on the taxi-way for up to 35 minutes to depart. The airport consultant is projecting that all of these times will eventually over the next five years reach capacity.


Also of note is that SDIA while it has the fewest total number of annual operations of any of the 30 core airports, has the highest percentage of missed approaches of these same 30 core airports. A missed approach is performed by a pilot as a safety measure and can be caused by a myriad of situations, including a departing plane began to roll too late, two landing aircraft do not have the required separation, and or the pilot has not met the airline prescribed stability conditions (e.g., altitude and speed).


The final chart below shows preliminary correlation of percent missed approaches versus number of operations per hour. This chart shows that as the number of operations per hour approaches capacity, there is a rapid increase in the number of missed approaches. At some point, the percent missed approaches shifts from a reduction to an increase in safety risk. This same trend has also been seen at LAX, but it does require further review, which is ongoing as I write. More to come.



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