2008_05_newarkair.jpgAs the FAA tries to figure out ways to ease congestion at NYC area airports, air traffic controllers are signaling a potential growing problem at Newark airport. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association union says an airspace redesign as Newark has created confused pilots.

The union says the new takeoff pattern at Newark Liberty International has caused pilots from a number of airlines to make wrong turns. NATCA union vice president Ray Adams said that pilots "aren't notified of the specifics of the new pattern until they are on the runway preparing to take off."

On a recording from the Newark air traffic control tower last month obtained by The Associated Press, pilots of several planes that are minutes from takeoff are heard expressing unfamiliarity with the new pattern.

"That's a negative," a JetBlue pilot says when a controller asks if he's familiar with it. "Here's how it's going to work," the controller begins.

While none of the incidents were dangerous, the union wants the FAA to officially "publish" the pattern, so pilots have it--but the FAA "won't publish it until more work is done on the overall airspace redesign." If that's so, let's hope the FAA figure out a way to tell pilots about the change in advance.

Aerial photograph, with Newark Airport in the foreground, by Benzadrine on Flickr