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MULTI-CENTER TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT ADVISOR
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Overview

Traffic management coordinators (TMCs) and en route (Center) air traffic controllers manage and control arrival traffic into busy terminal areas (Terminal Radar Approach Controls, or TRACONs). On the basis of the current and future traffic flow, the TMC creates a plan to deliver the aircraft, safely separated, to the TRACON at a rate that fully subscribes, but does not exceed, the capacity of the TRACON and destination airports. The Traffic Management Advisor for Single Centers (TMA-SC) assists the Center TMCs and air traffic controllers in flow management planning.

TMA-SC capability is being deployed in facilities throughout the National Airspace System (NAS) as part of the FAA's Free Flight Phase 1 program. Current development underway is focused on extending this capability under Multi-Center TMA (McTMA), a decision-support tool that will expand TMA's planning horizon and facilitate traffic management planning and coordination between multiple ATC facilities.

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Flow Management Planning

For each arrival aircraft in the system, McTMA computes the undelayed estimated time of arrival (ETA) to meter fixes, final approach fix and runway threshold. These calculations may occur up to 90 minutes before the aircraft is tracked by radar. The aircraft are then scheduled, typically between 40 to 200 nautical miles from the arrival airport. Scheduling is composed of, first, creating an aircraft sequence based on first-come, first-served sequencing according to the meter fix ETA and user-entered sequence constraints, and then, second, computing the scheduled times of arrival (STAs) at the meter fix that meet user-defined scheduling constraints.

By making these calculations well in advance of when traffic flow management decisions need to be implemented, McTMA helps TMCs to create a traffic plan and translates the traffic plan into sequences and STAs at the meter fixes, maximizing airport and TRACON capacity without compromising safety. McTMA provides its sequence and schedule information to TMCs via its graphical displays. The Center controllers issue clearances to the aircraft to meet the traffic plan, according to the McTMA-generated STAs. McTMA increases situational awareness through accurate predictive capability and its display of schedule information. McTMA continually updates its schedule at a rate comparable to the radar update rate in response to changing events (such as amount of traffic or changes in the winds) and controller and/or TMC inputs.

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Multi-Center TMA

Initial McTMA research efforts will investigate the traffic management issues in the busy Northeast corridor of the U.S., focused on the traffic into Philadelphia TRACON (PHL) and involving several Centers (New York Center, Washington Center, Cleveland Center, and Boston Center). McTMA displays will be provided to the five facilities, enabling them to visualize the traffic demand into PHL. The scheduling capability will be developed to introduce time-based metering to PHL across Center boundaries. The McTMA research effort is aimed at improving coordination and developing the means for utilizing time-based metering in the Northeast. The PHL effort will result in a prototype system that has been recommended for deployment as part of Free Flight Phase 2.

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AT A GLANCE
Purpose:
Help traffic management coordinators (TMCs) anticipate future demand across multiple Centers and regulate traffic flow into the TRACON.

Users:
+ En route TMCs
+ En route radar controllers
+ Terminal area TMCs

Field Sites:
+ New York ARTCC (ZNY)
+ Cleveland ARTCC (ZOB)
+ Boston ARTCC (ZBW)
+ Washington ARTCC (ZDC)
+ Philadelphia TRACON (PHL)

Operational Results:

In operational testing at Fort Worth ARTCC, Single-Center TMA (TMA-SC) reduced inbound delay by over 2 minutes per aircraft and increased capacity by 5%.

The FAA estimates that TMA-SC saves airlines US$3.6 million per year at Fort Worth ARTCC.

Future:
The FAA is evaluating deployment of McTMA as part of its Free Flight Phase 2 program.
PUBLICATIONS
McTMA Publications
Link to a list of McTMA papers available for download.
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Last Updated: October 13, 2016

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