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Time-Based Flow Management (TBFM)

Matt Gammon (ZID) Art. 114 Rep for Time Based Flow Management (TBFM) 

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 a number of 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. 

In addition to the recent completed IDAC scheduling enhancement work for Jacksonville Center (ZJX), the TBFM Ops Team helped implement an 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.  This enhancement was loaded and tested by facility SMEs in their local TBFM support lab and the Team worked to coordinate operational turn-on April 5th.  This initiative has been 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.  This scheduling replaces a series of miles in trail (MIT) restrictions for ATL and CLT along the East coast.  Although recent MIT has not been as large as previously, pre-Covid these restrictions were as large as 40 Mile-In-Trail and would have been expected to rise back to this level again without this scheduling capability. Would like to thank not only NEC TBFM Team, SLE, CAVAN and others, but also the facilities involved as they have worked closely together to make this happen.    

We continue 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.  The Team has also begun setting up a TBFM support group for future work in the Southwest Operating Area soon.  This will be like the TBFM groups that have been set up to support NEC and NWM and will include not only TBFM Ops Team members, but also representatives from Second Level Engineering/Cavan support, Field Automation Support Team (FAST), Program Office Field Managers (POFM’s) as well as many others.  This group will work closely with Field Implementation Teams (FIT’s) and other Facility Representatives to provide the most comprehensive support as possible.   

Terminal Sequence and Spacing (TSAS) 

Paul Carroll (PCT) 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 downwinds.  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.  This is a change from the Program Office. 

Software Updates- the Team participated in numerous software telcons and provided input on several software decisions for both TBFM and TSAS.  We are still validating software updates as the Tech Center receives them.  We have worked with TAMR on software changes to reduce the clutter issue with the TSAS tools.  One will be a DCB intensity control button for unowned data blocks and the other will be a quick look function that will not show TSAS tools.  Both will be available for the DEN TSAS IOC.  Thanks to Kyle and Jason for all of the help along the way! 

Testing- As Corona virus impacts continue to ebb and flow, we have limited live testing.  We have been scheduling lab events but with limited participation due to Tech Center protocols.  We are virtually testing a software prototype with SMEs from Denver TRACON to determine if the new algorithms will be acceptable for operational use.  We hope that the live testing resumes very soon.  

Training and Implementation 

We have scheduled two virtual curriculum-training events in over the next several months.  We hope to schedule additional meetings as needed until the curriculum training development is finished, which will be a huge relief. Thanks to the Training SMEs for your work on a particularly dry topic. 

As time progresses and facility visits are viable, we hope to start our outreach meetings to Denver Tracon (D01), Denver Tracon (ZDV) and Denver (DEN). These initial meetings will lay the groundwork for the facilities to understand the impacts to facility. This will put them in a better understanding for training impacts, equipment and overall budgeting. We hope to start this as soon as practical.  

Upcoming Activities: 

  • Review of tickets planned training, and other activities for Sustainment, Northeast Corridor (NEC) TBFM & Western Area TSAS implementation. 
  • Upcoming support for TBFM 4.10.1 National Release  
  • 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. 
  • Participation in evaluation of virtual activities. 
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