Air Traffic Bulletin

Issue 00-4 *SPECIAL* JULY 2000

Spring 2000 Initiatives and Collaborative Decision Making (CDM)

/*TEF/ In February of this year, training materials were distributed to all air traffic facilities concerning severe weather management. Many of the tools and processes outlined in the materials were developed through the CDM process. CDM membership includes representatives from the airlines, Air Transport Association, American Dispatchers Federation, Air Line Pilots Association and other pilots' associations and unions, National Air Traffic Controllers Association, National Business Aviation Association, FAA, and private industry. This information has been distributed and training was provided by airline personnel to their operations center personnel, as well as through a Letter to Airmen. A cooperative effort on the part of all air traffic personnel will help maintain system safety while reducing system delays and improving system efficiency during inclement weather.

The following items were developed this year to enhance our response to severe weather:

Route Coordination: The primary objectives of the CDM route coordination tools are to reduce route coordination time. Coded Departure Routes (CDR) and the National Playbook will streamline the coordination process by providing a common situational awareness for field facilities, the Air Traffic Control Systems Command Center (ATCSCC), and the airlines. The ATCSCC coordinates additional routes with field facilities, as needed, and is vested with the responsibility for applying a "systems approach" in resolving conflicts and identifying priorities. Field facilities will identify initiatives and alternative actions needed to efficiently manage the traffic flows, with a focus of minimizing sector complexities.

Coded Departure Routes: CDR's facilitate the timely dissemination and implementation of reroutes. Each en route facility is responsible for developing its own routes and coordinating the routes with other impacted facilities. The information is then entered into the host computer and a database located at the ATCSCC and is updated concurrent with the 56-day chart cycle. Airline personnel then use the data for flight planning and abbreviated clearances. Abbreviated clearances must be coordinated through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the facility and the user. Advance notification to Airline Operations Centers (AOC) through the ATCSCC Advisory System provides for accurate resource planning to allow safe operations within aircraft limitations.

To simplify cockpit procedures and expedite accurate communication, a standardized national route coding system has been established and is in place. The format is an eight-character designator:

  • Characters 1-3 represent the point of origin.
  • Characters 4-6 represent the destination.
  • Characters 7-8 are reserved for local adaptation.

Example: ORDEWR2N is from ORD to EWR, and the last two alphanumerics are determined by ZAU.

Some companies have contracted with Jeppesen to make supplemental pages describing CDR's. The national database can be accessed through the ATCSCC web page. Filtering capabilities provide quick access to the applicable routings.

National Playbook: The National Playbook is a traffic management tool developed to give the ATCSCC, field facilities, and system users a common product for various route scenarios. The purpose of the playbook is to aid in expediting route coordination during periods of constraint in the National Airspace System (NAS), that occur en route or at the destination airport. The playbook contains the most common scenarios that occur each severe weather season. The "play" includes the resource or flow impacted, facilities included, and specific routes for each facility involved. Each scenario in the playbook includes a graphical presentation and has been validated by the individual facilities involved in that scenario. The playbook is available on the ATCSCC web site and is updated every 56 days, concurrent with the chart cycle.

Diversion Recovery: An initiative orchestrated by the ATCSCC and users to minimize the impact of disruptions to the NAS. Diversion recovery is utilized during and after periods of significant weather or other phenomena that has adversely impacted the system resulting in flight diversions. The goal of the diversion recovery initiative is to ensure that flights that have already been penalized by having to divert to another airport do not receive additional penalties or delays; however, they are sequenced with airborne traffic.

The ATCSCC, in conjunction with system users, implements diversion recovery. AOC's input "DVRSN" in the remarks section of the flight plan. Airline company priority, from the same airport, is established by order of filed proposed times. The highest priority flights are filed with the earliest times. The air traffic control (ATC) coordinators/dispatchers, working through the ATCSCC, coordinate company priority from different airports. Competing airlines at the same airport will be handled on a "first come, first served" basis. Procedures for diversion recovery are documented in FAA Order 7210.3, Facility Administration, Chapter 17, Paragraph 4-6, Diversion Recovery.

Early Filing of Intent: The lack of accurate flight planning information reduces the effectiveness of traffic management decisions, thus limiting NAS efficiency. NAS users are encouraged to announce their intentions and file in accordance with the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). NAS users are requested to file IFR flight plans 4 hours before departure. (Reference AIM 5-1-7; Flight Plan – IFR Flights.) The users have been requested to ensure that only one flight plan per flight is entered in the system. Air traffic facilities will normally enter amendments to flight plans for air traffic proposed to depart within 45 minutes of a coordinated reroute.

Low Altitude Alternate Departure Routes (LAADR): LAADR is a procedure whereby flight altitudes may be limited to flight level 230 and below. LAADR procedures are primarily used in the departure phase of flight, but can be extended for an entire flight when operational benefits are achieved. This enables more aircraft to transit a specific locale without increasing complexity and congestion at the higher altitudes. MOU's between the specific air route traffic control centers and airline participants must be concluded identifying training requirements and procedures to be implemented. Agreements reached at the local level on LAADR must be briefed to all parties involved (controllers, pilots and dispatchers). Participants greatly benefit from having common situational awareness. Pilots have been briefed not to request higher altitudes when utilizing this procedure. Notification and implementation of LAADR procedures, via the ATCSCC Advisory System, provide dispatchers and system users the ability to accurately plan resources and fuel requirements.

User Hotline: The user hotline is a communication tool designed to provide operational information to the NAS community in a timely manner. The hotline is activated during periods of rapidly changing conditions in the NAS. A telephone conference is conducted by the ATCSCC Tactical Customer Advocate (TCA) position. Either the user or the FAA may request to activate the hotline. An ATCSCC advisory is issued that includes the telephone number and passcode to be utilized. The focus on these conferences is relegated to flight specific questions and issues and/or event specific situations. When the ATCSCC receives a specific request from an airline, the appropriate ATC facility is contacted to investigate the situation; where possible, action is taken to resolve the issue. The hotline is terminated when the TCA and users decide the conference is no longer beneficial. After termination of the hotline, an ATCSCC advisory is sent.

Collaborative Convective Forecast Product (CCFP): CCFP was developed to provide a single convective forecast for NAS users. CCFP utilizes input from Center Weather Service Units and airline meteorologists to generate a forecast, four times each day. The CCFP product, ATC facility comments, and user comments are utilized to develop a plan for the next several hours. It is available on the ATCSCC and the Aviation Weather Center web pages.

Special Use Airspace: The FAA and U.S. Navy have signed a Letter of Agreement which describes warning area airspace (Northern Florida to Maine) coordination during severe weather events. Based on airspace availability, additional routes may be utilized during severe weather events.

Post Event Analysis: The purpose of post event analysis is to review NAS performance. The goal is to identify lessons learned with the intent of developing a more efficient airspace system.

Strategic Planning Team (SPT): The SPT, located at the ATCSCC, collaborates with the users and air traffic facilities on telephone conference calls throughout each day. Based on the information shared, the SPT publishes a plan for the next several hours. The SPT conducts lessons learned reviews once every 2 weeks. ATCSCC and field personnel, along with NAS users, are invited to participate in these reviews. Feedback is collected utilizing facility and ATCSCC logs and the critique form located on the ATCSCC web page. Further information regarding the SPT is contained in FAA Notice 7200.16, Strategic Plan of Operation, effective March 12, 2000, and replaced by FAA Notice 7200.17, Strategic Plan of Operation, effective July 17, 2000.

You may access the ATCSCC web page at and view the ATCSCC advisories as well as many other products. Further guidance regarding Traffic Management procedures is contained in FAA Order 7210.3, Facility Administration, Chapter 17, Traffic Management National, Center, and Terminal.


Delay Notification

The increased interest in causal factors for flight delays manifested itself in the proposed "Passenger Bill of Rights," and the numerous articles in national newspapers. While there are numerous factors outside Air Traffic's control that may cause delays, it is incumbent upon all of us to notify "others" to try and mitigate the delay and to accurately document delays.

FAA Order 7110.65M, Air Traffic Control, Chapter 11, Traffic Management Procedures, states "ATCS's shall…keep the OS and TMU apprised of situations that may cause congestion or delays." ATCS's must be vigilant in ensuring that aircraft are not "forgotten at the gate," due to higher priority duties. Once the information is received by the TMU or supervisor, additional notifications may be required. At 15 minutes of delay, facilities must inform the overlying Center or the ATCSCC, as appropriate, that they are in reportable delays. Updates to the delay situation are normally called in 15-minute increments. For instance, the next call would be that delays have increased to 30 minutes or the facility is out of delays. Documentation of delays is specified in FAA Order 7210.55, Operations Network.

Delay notification to the ATCSCC is specified in FAA Order 7210.3, Facility Administration, Chapter 17, Section 5, Coordination. The requirements for notification were augmented by General Notice (GENOT) 9/43, 7200.482 that was effective September 27, 1999. The GENOT requires facility managers to ensure procedures are developed for notifying the facility manager and the ATCSCC when delays exceed 90 minutes, unless the aircraft is in a ground delay program with an expect departure clearance time. This requirement was initiated due to aircraft receiving delays up to 7 hours on the ground, while other air traffic had resumed hours ago. As recently as June of this year, aircraft are receiving delays in excess of 3 hours, which are not known to the ATCSCC until the OPSNET report the next morning. It is highly unlikely that any of us would be willing recipients of this type of service. While all delays cannot be mitigated, it is our responsibility to try and ensure that they are distributed equitably.

GENOT 9/43 also implemented a 30-minute restriction on local ground stops. Extensions to the ground stop must be approved by the ATCSCC. Facilities are to notify the ATCSCC as soon as practical when implementing a local ground stop.

All of us, working as a team, can help mitigate delay and eliminate unnecessary delays. Communication remains key to our success.(ATT-1)


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