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Time-Based Flow Management (TBFM)

Matt Gammon is the Article 114 Rep for TBFM 

Background:  Time Based Flow Management is a system of tools used to manage flows of traffic based on time in order to maximize efficiency.  There are several technologies within TBFM to include but not limited to Airborne Time-Based Metering, Integrated Departure Arrival Capability (IDAC), EnRoute Departure Capability (EDC) and Terminal Spacing and Sequencing (TSAS).  Airborne Metering applies spacing where needed by having aircraft meet scheduled times at constraint points to balance demand with capacity and optimize flows of traffic into a terminal area. EDC is a scheduling capability within TBFM to Manage Miles-in-Trail restrictions when needed. IDAC specifically allows not only for automated release requests/acceptances, but also allows Towers to get insight into future constraints for planning purposes. 

An enhancement to the TBFM system at Atlanta Center (ZTL) and Jacksonville Center (ZJX) was implemented and allows for select Towers in ZJX to schedule departures directly into the ZTL TBFM EnRoute Departure Capability (EDC) system to meet Miles-In-Trail (MIT) restrictions.  In addition to the enhancement work for ZJX the Ops team is working on a future enhancement to allow New York Center (ZNY) and Boston Center (ZBW) to schedule departures directly into the Atlanta (ATL) and Charlotte (CLT) Arrival TBFM system.  These initiatives are being worked through the Northeast Corridor (NEC) Collaborative Workgroup and will not only reduce the amount of MIT restrictions, but also allow for greater visibility to both the scheduling and receiving facilities.  

The Ops team continues to participate and support the Trajectory Based Operations (TBO) Collaborative Work Groups (CWG’s). These currently include the Northeast Corridor, Northwest Mountain (NWM), and Southwest Operating Areas.  The NWM TBFM support group has begun their work with the involved facilities and is being co-led by Brandon Smith (ZTL).  The group includes members from TBFM Ops, Engineering, contract support, and others and their primary purpose will be to support the Facilities with the TBFM related TBO work in the Denver NWM Area. 

Most importantly TBFM is running into issues getting the next build to the field.  Currently TBFM 4.8.4 is the latest operational release and has been in the field for well over a year.  Generally, TBFM builds are released every 6 months or so to ensure that new features are applied and more importantly that issues that are found are fixed in a timely manner.  Although the Operational Tests for the new 4.10.1 system were completed prior to COVID, the final tests that need to be completed by technical personnel have not been completed as there has not been sustained access to the Tech Center.  This technical testing is not available to be done remotely so we will not be able to get the new system out until the build passes this final testing.  The further this delay continues the more issues that are being identified by the field that will need to be fixed in the upcoming release.  The Ops Team is working collaboratively with AJT, the Program Office, and other groups to prioritize this work moving forward with the understanding that COVID restrictions may continue to delay this build release so continued mitigation work may need to be done. 

Terminal Sequence and Spacing (TSAS) 

Paul Carroll is the TSAS NATCA Subgroup Co-Lead 

Background:  Terminal Sequencing and Spacing (TSAS) is a new technology that is under development.  TSAS is an extension of Time-Based Flow Metering (TBFM) into terminal airspace.  The system provides controllers with several tools including speed advisories to maintain a predetermined sequence to a runway/s without extending the downwind.  TSAS is a key component of Trajectory Based Operations (TBO).  Denver TRACON is the first key site with a scheduled date of October 14 of 2022.  

Software Updates- the Team participated in numerous software telcons and provided input on several software decisions for both TBFM and TSAS.  We are awaiting several outstanding software fixes that are necessary prior to TSAS implementation at any field facility.  Some of these fixes are safety related and must be mitigated before using this Decision Support Tool.  The Team has not identified any new issues recently.  

Testing- Due to Corona Virus impacts, we do not see live testing at the Tech Center anytime soon.  We have continued to do some remote viewing of software changes and will continue to do so until live testing can resume.  We are working with the Next Gen capability lab to look at software changes that have been released.  We are reviewing the high priority software fixes in TBFM as well as STARS.  We have asked for improvements to the virtual environment to help improve this work.  Hopefully, we will be able to test in person as conditions improve which will speed up the process and provide a more robust assessment of the TSAS program.    

Training and Implementation- Due to budget constraints, the Program Office cancelled two Curriculum Training meetings in January.  However, the Team held a Training Curriculum meeting at the beginning of February to continue with the EnRoute TMC training.  The SMEs on the Team identified a potential issue regarding the EnRoute TMC course; Hands on training may be necessary to adequately train personnel about TSAS material.  Currently, the training consists of only online training through eLMS. The Corona virus affects everything we are doing, and some impacts could affect the scheduling of future activities.   As identify issues, we add them to our list of risks as we continue toward an implementation in Denver. 

Upcoming Activities: 

·      New York Center (ZNY)/Boston Center (ZBW) departure connection work to Atlanta Center (ZTL) and Charlotte (CLT) Metering Operations 

·      Evaluations, Inspections, and Peer Reviews of future TBFM build content. 

·      Continued work with Trajectory Based Operations Group (TBO) Training workgroup with a focus on future standard Controller training for TBFM Airborne Metering. 

·      Continuing usage of TBFM developmental server for Ops Team SMEs. 

·      Review of tickets, planned training, and other activities for Sustainment, Northeast Corridor (NEC) TBFM & Western Area TSAS implementation.