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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.   

The TFDM program has been delayed due to COVID since the pandemic started.  Access to facilities which include the William J. Hughes Technical Center (WJHTC) have been very limited or no access at all.  Testing, deployment activities, and training have all ceased.  The March dry-run for OT&E has been canceled.  The four-week OT&E in April and May is still up in the air whether it will happen.  The PHX Initial Operational Capability (IOC) most likely will be postponed until the beginning of 2022. With these delays come a monetary cost which was not budgeted for when the program was green lit.  With that said, the PMO (Program Management Office) will be presenting to the CIT (Capital Investment Team) a request for additional funds above and beyond the approved baseline for FY 2023 to ensure completion of the waterfall.  The FY 2022 budget has already been approved and changes cannot be made.  There are talks about saving money by reducing the number of sites. TFDM NATCA and NATCA National are awaiting a briefing from the PMO.  No decisions have been made. 

Aircraft capabilities and a way to present them if needed on EFS or SMN was presented by Mark Ostronic (NATCA ART114 Rep Requirements) to the TFDM Ops team for evaluation.  A small group will evaluate the capabilities and report back on the importance of this information and whether or not it is needed on the EFS or SMN.   

Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) discussions have taken place between the PMO, NATCA, and AJT regarding the exit criteria and operational suitability of software.  AJT and NATCA were expecting a full blown, check every functionality OT&E, and what was presented was not even close.  The agreed upon exit criteria cannot be changed at this late stage. Steps have now been taken to ensure NATCA SMEs will test, prior to the IOC software OT&E, that each function will be thoroughly vetted.  Issues found during the new test period will be corrected prior to OT&E.   

With uncertainty swirling around TFMS’s (Traffic Flow Management System) future moving forward with new builds in the coming years, the program has been reaching out to facilities utilizing ARMT and DSP to ensure we find avenues to subsume these tools.  A use case was performed this reporting period for DSP which involved numerous NATCA SMEs from the New York area.  The TFDM team has also requested information from ARMT sites on usage.  One of the main reasons for deploying TFDM to 89 sites was to help replace redundant and aging systems with 21st century technology.  The dependence on other programs is unbelievable to make this system compatible and move us into the new millennia. TBFM, TDLS, TFMS, STARS, FDIO, and ASDE-X/ASSC to name a few. TFDM through software needs to communicate either one-way or both ways between each of these systems flawlessly for it to work. To gain the efficiency the agency and users are looking for is a tall order. TFDM and the other programs need to get back to the tech center, testing and evaluation needs to begin immediately to keep us on an already delayed timeline. 

TFDM NATCA Training lead Ross Costa (RSW) 

Mr. Costa (RSW) has been working on training materials for TFDM.  Over the last month, we have successfully converted our virtual TFDM lab to the latest Build 2.0 which includes Surface Management Tools.  The Workgroup diligently reviewed the materials against the virtual lab in preparation for our In-Person Review (IPR) conducted in late February.  We were able to document a number of change requests in order to ensure proper flow to the course and accuracy of the content.  We then held an IPR for the Advanced TMC Course.  Due to COVID this review had to be done virtually.  Although the setting for this review was not ideal, the workgroup was able to go through the 60% material review and provide comments to the vendor.   

In addition to the IPR preparation and our IPR, the Training Workgroup met regularly with other groups within the Program to gather additional information on the system and items that need to be captured in training.   

On March 1st, 2021, the Training Workgroup added a new FAA co-lead.  The Leads meet weekly to ensure that we set the proper agenda and expectations for the week.  We have collaborated on setting up a new structure to ensure that we continually prioritize tasks, create goals and set expectations.  We have been working on reorganizing our group and have developed a 30-day plan for Training activities.  The Training Workgroup continues to meet weekly as a group to ensure that we are on task and assign tasks.  We also continue to meet with the vendor to provide feedback to the material that is being developed.   

TFDM NATCA SE lead Louis Caggiano (EWR) 

Most of the Systems Engineering work during this reporting period was focused on Surface Management (SMN).  

Discrepancy Report (DR) verification sessions continue but it is not an ideal method to virtually test in times of COVID.  Since the team has not been allowed into the lab, we have been making use of an application called Guacamole which provides remote access to both the Electronic Flight Strips and the Surface Manager Display. While it has proven to be useful in verifying DRs that have been fixed, it is limited in the ability to capture the usefulness of in-person testing. 

The FAA has begun an effort to create a high-level animated presentation of the Electronic Flight Strips. This will be posted to the FAA website and can be viewed by the general public. Nate Miller and Louis Caggiano both are assigned to ensure the presentation is correct and the script that is used is understandable. It is not meant to be a detail explanation but an overview to a larger audience. 

A Test Workgroup has been established to create scripts which SMEs will use during OT&E to ensure all aspects of the software will be tested. In addition, this workgroup will keep track of and coordinate all test events with other programs.    

Last week, representatives from all of the DSP towers, New York Tracon (N90), and New York Center (ZNY) participated in a virtual UC (Use Case) concerning DSP flight states.  This UC documents how the TFDM system using electronic flight strips and FDIO will replicate the strip scanning functionality for IFR departures contained within the DSP system. With the uncertainty of TFMS’s future in the NAS this interim solution was developed. 

TFDM SMN NATCA lead Mike Hoprich (CLT) 

Four different SIGs (System Issue Group) were worked heavily over the reporting period.  SIG 120, 128, 130, and 132.  Overall progress was very good, and decisions made to close these out.  Sig 120 was demonstrated to the Ops Team.  A few tweaks to the size of the tool were made. This tool will give the TMC/CIC awareness on the airports delay status.  It will also break delays down per runway so the TMC can evaluate which runway is more efficient and which might be approaching delay status.  In addition, the tool gives the ability to see how many aircraft are in each fifteen-minute delay bin and when an airport would transition into and out of delays.  This tool was developed to help replace portions of ARMT (Airport Resource Management Tool). 

SIG 128 was finalized as well. This tool will give TMC’s enhanced capabilities from the timeline to manipulate flights (changing runways, excluding A/C from TMI, etc.).  It will also visually show if an aircraft needs a runway for operational necessity.  The cleaned up the timeline making it look similar to TBFM IDAC.  Hopefully in a future enhancement, TFDM will subsume that capability from TBFM and reduce a monitor from the space constrained position.  Timelines are the most important tool for a TMC.  The better enhancements we make to this tool, the better the system will be for ATC purposes.  The goal is for a TMC to be able to do everything they need to in the timeline and use other tools as a means to enhance their situational awareness.  

TFDM NATCA was able to get rid of SIG 130 and replace with a PTR (Program Trouble Report), all while getting more standardization throughout the SMN.  So much in the way data is displayed seems either random or not standard throughout the platform.  This SIG, now PTR, corrects the SMN portion.  Having the standard throughout SMN is important and this PTR goes a long way to helping the TMC. 

The team was fortunate enough to get an early look at SIG 132.  This SIG will provide the TMC with the actively moving aircraft for departure per runway.  Starting at pushback to taxiing in the ramp to taxiing on the AMA (Airport Movement Area).  This is a great real time tactical tool a TMC can use to move aircraft to a different departure runway to better balance the flow of aircraft to the departure runways. 

TFDM NATCA Deployment lead Nate Miller (MDW) 

Deployment wise, TFDM continues to work towards a November IOC at Phoenix (PHX).  Pre-Site Surveys are scheduled with Columbus (CMH) and Las Vegas (LAS) in April, this will be the first time that TFDM will be conducting a day long facility site team briefing for AT.  This will give the facility a better understanding of all the aspects of what TFDM brings and how it will affect their facility. Within the next month we will be conducting COVID update briefings to facilities that were put on hold. In addition, NATCA TFDM is working with ES (Engineering Services) to procure mounts for the TFDM display. The mounts that the displays currently utilize are unstable. ES will either fabricate, out-source the work, or a combination of the two. 

TFDM NATCA Adaptation lead Bob Kerr (CLE)  

The TFDM Adaptation Team has been involved in many different activities recently. Our primary focus, over the last month, has been to work with multiple facilities to gather information that TSLE and Leidos will use to build each sites adaptation. Breaking down each site’s operation to the most basic details to ensure that we understand and capture everything.  Our goal is to provide each site with the most seamless transition possible into Electronic Flight Strips (EFS). We start by reviewing every SOP, LOA, and Order. The information that we collect includes defining each sites roles and configurations. We design the TFDM bays for each position in the tower and work with controllers to ensure that we have every step of the workflow correct i.e., clearance to ground to local. In addition, collect local strip marking along with what information each site sends to their respective Tracon. We then work to ensure that all of that information is captured with electronic flight strips and recommend adaptation changes, if necessary, so that no site loses data. 

Other projects the Adaptation Workgroup continue to work on include: 

  •  Reviewing Messages and Notifications, building a Master Spreadsheet to better organize this information, and building templates for both our Build 1 and Build 2 sites. 
  • Continuing to create and modify our Adaptation Checklist that will be used during each site’s initial adaptation visit. 
  • Continuing to review and modify the Functionality and Implementation Guide (FIG) for EFS. 
  • Working with the newly created FMEA (Failure Mode Effects and Analysis) Sub-work group to identify and document failure modes and operational impacts of the system and its interfaces.   
  • working with the entire TFDM OPS Team reviewing various system problems, changes, and suggestions. 
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