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TERMINAL FLIGHT DATA MANAGER (TFDM

Aaron Rose is the Article 114 Representative for TFDM.  

Background:  TFDM will provide improvements to flight data coordination and management for ATCT users, as well as enhanced surface traffic flow management capabilities. TFDM will replace ATCT paper flight strips with electronic flight strips, provide automation for electronic flight and airport data management, and interface with other NAS systems to share electronic flight data. In addition, TFDM will provide a suite of capabilities designed to improve traffic flow management including new surface scheduling capabilities, runway load balancing, and will provide surface traffic visualization tools, and traffic flow metrics.  TFDM is also tasked with replacing prototype systems; Airspace Technology Demonstration (ATD-2) and Advanced Electronic Flight Strips (AEFS).  Departure Spacing Program (DSP), Airport Resource Management Tool (ARMT), and Electronic Flight Strip Transfer System (EFSTS) are being replaced by Terminal Flight Data Manager as well.   

TFDM NATCA met with MITRE and the agency about testing PACER at Charlotte (CLT) for ATD-2 metering for general aviation and business aviation.  PACER will allow pilots to submit updated departure intent and then send TMAT (Target Movement Area Times) back to the aircraft thru ATD-2.  This ensures the flight will be included in metering and provide the pilots with a more accurate time for taxi and takeoff.  MITRE and the agency are looking to test in early spring of 2021 at CLT.  Adam Rhodes (NATCA NextGen 114) and Kristin Wilson (NATCA ATD-2) both took part in the telcon.  Coordination with CLT is scheduled to start after the new year. 

On January 5th the first 3T Ops team meeting took place.  The 3Ts include TFDM, TBFM (Time Based Flow Management), and TFMS (Traffic Flow Management System).   This meeting ensures information flow between the three groups.  Information which includes which builds are being worked, timetables for testing, and timetable for deployment of new software or install at new facilities.  High level questions can be brought to this meeting for discussion.  This meeting is scheduled once a month moving forward, additional meetings may happen the closer TFDM comes to start of deployment. 

COVID is still affecting deployment and implementation, TFDM is working toward a Nov 2021 IOC (Initial Operational Capability) at Phoenix (PHX).  Testing, training, and site visits are still on hold.  TFDM NATCA is working with the PMO (Program Management Office) to ensure they do not rush the deployment during this time.  The implementation hinges on procedures each facility have due to COVID.   These procedures vary throughout the country.  

The TFDM PMO briefed the Capital Investment Team (CIT) about the FY23 budget.  The PM (program manager) has requested additional funds to cover costs during COVID.  All programs have done the same thing, whether the additional funds will be provided will not be known for a couple months.  This impacts TFDM when it comes to software and hardware enhancements. 

ABQ has requested to be placed on the waterfall to receive TFDM.  The TFDM National Workgroup (NWG) will be discussing this request with AJT (FAA Air Traffic) and AJV-S (FAA Requirements). 

The training lab which is offsite at the Willian J Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City NJ is too small to accommodate spacing during COVID. The NWG is working to figure out where it can be moved to provide proper physical spacing. The offsite training lab has now gone from holding 8 students to only holding 3 to 4 with 1 instructor. To ensure CADRE instructors are trained properly in time for the first site it will be difficult in the present space. 

A dry run on a way to complete operational test and evaluation (OT&E) will commence on March 16th, if travel is approved. 4 NATCA representatives and 2 AJV-S testers will descend on Atlantic City to explore and evaluate the best way forward to complete OT&E safely. If TFDM is to deploy in November, testing needs to begin as soon as possible. NATCA TFDM has advised the PMO that OT&E shall not be done virtually. 

Software wise, NATCA reps are still ironing out wrinkles in the build 1 software.  Small issues such as colors not being exactly right on the display, the way strips are passed throughout the tower, and how times are populated on the electronic flight strips.  We are working through these issues and learning more and more each day about the way the software works and how adaptation will need to be accomplished. 

TFDM Training 

Ross Costa is the TFDM NATCA Training Rep 

Ross Costa (RSW) joined the TFDM team as the Training Representative in mid-October 2020. He replaced Bridget Brazelton (DEN) who was recalled. Ms. Brazelton performed a tremendous job getting the training portion of TFDM organized and ready for deployment. During the first several weeks of the transition, Ms. Brazelton assisted Mr. Costa in discussing process, goals, schedule and outstanding issues. We would like to thank her for her professionalism, hard work and dedication to the success of the Program.  

During the last month, Mr. Costa has been working daily performing numerous digital meetings, educating himself on the equipment and weekly meetings with the Training Workgroup (TWG). Reviewing training materials and understanding potential schedule issues due to COVID-19. The TWG has recently completed its review of Build 1.2 training materials and has provided comments to Leidos/SAAB. We have been advised that those comments have been reconciled into the training materials. The TWG also reviewed all items that other workgroups have identified as potential training items. We have reviewed those items and incorporated them appropriately into the training materials.  

As we move forward, we are dealing with the impacts of COVID and our inability to travel. Currently, we have postponed our review of the L24/L30 Operator’s Manuals due to not having access to a TFDM system. We have also asked for an upgrade to our remote access lab so that we can install Build 2.0 and have a remote system to access and review the TMC Courses. Although these are delays, as a group we have discussed a path forward without an impact to our overall training timeline.  

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