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TERMINAL FLIGHT DATA MANAGER (TFDM)

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 (EFS), 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.   

Over the last four weeks the Test workgroup has had access to the lab, virtually of course. They did not waste one-minute, diving into the newly installed software and completing numerous tests with Surface Management (SMN) and EFS. Discrepancy Reports (DRs) were written when an issue was found with the vendors product. Few builds are left prior to our final IOC build but we cannot deploy with the software as it is today. NATCA TFDM is working with the Program Management Office (PMO) to ensure they understand the urgency of getting the correct and proper software build to the first site. Phoenix (PHX) is scheduled for March of 2022 with on-site training beginning in early January, followed closely by IND in April with on-site training in February. Nate Miller (MDW) and Louis Caggiano (EWR) have worked closely with the FAA communications department on a storyboard which describes how TFDM is used in the National Airspace System (NAS). The next meeting is scheduled for late May at which time they will take the storyboard and add dialogue. Then they will move on to doing a voice over in the studio located in Washington D.C. Mr. Rose is working closely with the Ops Team Management lead to ensure a brief is completed which all ARTCCs and TRACONs will receive. This brief includes adaptation which may or may not need to be changed in ERAM or STARS. Ensuring the timing is correct for each IOC will be crucial. One of the main reasons TFDM is not going only to CORE30 aerodromes is the need to replace EFSTS. FDM will replace the need for EFSTS and aural alarms are part of the legacy system. NATCA TFDM has decided to use the same sounds as EFSTS, Nate Miller provided the needed WAV files, and we are working with the vendor to ensure it is part of the system. The Pre-Site Survey (PSS) is an important part of deployment. During this meeting we provide the FacReps, ATMs, and Tech Ops manager with information about TFDM and what it brings to the table. Discuss other programs or projects which may impact TFDM deployment and review a detailed calendar of events. TFDM has completed 7 and has learned that a questionnaire which, we believed was complete, needed revamping. Over the last 2 weeks we finished a survey the site will be required to complete prior to our arrival so we may come better prepared to answer questions. Now onto the touchy subject of waterfall reprioritization. TFDM is scheduled to deploy 89 systems, that is 89 different towers throughout the NAS. COVID has wreaked havoc throughout the agency. Programs such as TDLS, TFDM, TBFM, and TFMS are all fighting for additional funds to keep moving forward. NATCA is fighting to keep all 89 sites on the waterfall. The Program Manager (PM) for TFDM has advised Mr. Rose that the agency considers this program a priority moving forward. This looks like a light at the end of the tunnel, but we will not know the full impact to the program until late May.  While we are discussing the waterfall, as some may have noticed we have been moving between facilities as to which will be numbers 2-10. IND was number four until issues with COVID impacted another program which impacted CLE deployment. Then we moved IND to the second spot. When we do start deployment after PHX, sites may need to be juggled because of other programs or COVID restrictions. Mr. Rose has additionally been contacted by Adam Rhodes (NATCA Article 114 NextGen) about moving another site into 2022 or 2023 because of a legacy piece of equipment which will no longer be supported by the agency. What this all comes down to, my fellow brothers and sisters, is there are too many variables in this equation to have a rock-solid waterfall of sites and their deployment dates. At least not until COVID restrictions are lifted and program impacts scrubbed. NATCA TFDM will be looking out for NAS safety and our BUMs no matter the circumstance.  

On the adaptation front led by Bob Kerr (CLE), the Adaptation workgroup has coordinated with Phoenix (PHX), Indianapolis (IND), Charlotte (CLT), Columbus (CMH), Seattle (SEA), and Las Vegas (LAS) ways their strip boards are set up. This workgroup also utilized the lab virtually to test: 

Bay Layout Reset behavior 

Runway Dialog Rules 

Bi-Directional Runway Settings 

Search Options 

Revert and Undo behavior 

Predicted & assigned Runway behavior 

Quick Action Buttons (QAB) 

Arrival & Departure ATIS options and behavior 

EFS Offset behavior 

Sort options 

Line-Up and Wait (LUAW) adaptation options and behavior 

In addition, the workgroup reviewed and met with the vendor to review spot assignment rules, runway dialog rules, messaging organization, template creation, aural alarm design, and testing for messaging.  

TFDM Training 

 Ross Costa is the TFDM NATCA Training Rep 

Mr. Ross Costa (RSW) continues to work with the rest of the training team to validate training materials and to address scheduling plans moving forward.  The training team has been holding multiple weekly meetings to address training materials, strategies and processes.  The training team has been working on developing procedures to ensure that they are properly validating training materials versus software design.  The team has been collaborating with other internal TFDM workgroups to ensure that communication is maintained and that the training materials are developed appropriately.  Due to COVID, the training team had a travel for an In-Person Review (IPR) of the Build 1.3 materials cancelled in mid-April.  The team used this time to perform a virtual review of the material in preparation for the rescheduled event in early May.  The team was able to document several comments to provide to Leidos/Saab for review and correction. 

During the month, the team has been working with the TFDM program to address the training schedule.  Although travel restrictions still exist, the team has been tasked to develop schedules and strategies to meet programmatic goals.  The team has created a plan moving forward for the next few months and we have identified training concerns along with schedule flexibility to deal with potential travel restrictions.  The team is also working to address lab space in Atlantic City.  Due to COVID restrictions, the training team is limited in training space and have been working with the Agency to address the potential of expanding our current workplace to increase our training capability.   

Finally, Mr. Costa traveled to the Leidos facility in Rockville, MD to perform the Build 1.3 documents review in early May.  The team consisted of Ky Badgley (LAS), Mike Hoprich (CLT) and several FAA contractors.  Although the entire team was not able to travel, the training workgroup developed a plan to review the materials using a hybrid format.  On-site we were able to accommodate a team of 5 and we were able to present the TFDM lab via virtual means using a web camera.  This allowed the remainder of our team to view our validation and provide input.  The team has been reviewing all training materials, the L24 Operator’s Manual, and the Las Vegas Tracon (L30) Quick Reference Guides (QRG).  The validation has been a success and the team was able to provide Leidos/SAAB with a number of items to update in our training materials. 

Over the last four weeks, the Test workgroup has had access to the lab, virtually of course.  They did not waste one minute, diving into the newly installed software and completing numerous tests with Surface Management (SMN) and EFS.  Discrepancy Reports (DRs) were written when an issue was found with the vendor’s product.    

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