Section 21. Operations Plan


Establishes the process, structure and responsibilities for developing, managing and implementing a daily strategic plan for air traffic operations in the National Airspace System (NAS).

  1. The Operations Plan (OP): The OP is a plan for management of the NAS and is formulated, developed, and maintained by the Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC) Planning Team (PT) in collaboration with FAA and customer weather forecasters, ATCSCC personnel, Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC), District Traffic Management Officers (TMO) or designees, terminals, airline planners, international facilities, military, general aviation planners, and other FAA field facility management personnel. The Operations Planning Webinar (PW) is conducted via a web-based application to include an audio dial-in capability.
  2. Advance Plan (AP):  The AP is for advanced (next day or later) management of the NAS. The AP is developed by the PT after collaboration with the same personnel as the OP.
  3. Trigger: A specific event/critical decision window (CDW) that causes a specific traffic management initiative (TMI)/time‐based management (TBM) operation to be implemented or modified.
  1. A trigger is for planning purposes and is intended to reduce coordination when implementing or modifying the specified TMI/TBM operation.
  2. All en route facilities impacted by the TMI/TBM operation must be contacted prior to implementing the TMI/TBM operation in response to the trigger.
  3. En route facilities must relay TMIs/TBM operations to affected terminal facilities within its area of jurisdiction.
  4. All triggers will be identified by “IF, THEN” clauses in the OP.


IF thunderstorms develop as forecast on J96, THEN ZKC will initiate the ORD BDF1 Playbook route.

  1. The OP will specify:
  1. Terminal constraints: facilities where delays are expected to be 15 minutes or greater.
  2. En route constraints: facilities where expanded miles-in-trail, deviations, and tactical reroutes may be required.
  1. The PT provides operational same day analysis and support, advanced planning, and historical review to provide greater predictability and reliability in managing NAS performance. Responsibilities include:
  1. Deliver a detailed Advance Plan (AP) to identify the next day's potential NAS impacts and TMIs/TBM operations as well as multi-day outlooks containing potential constraints and initiatives.
  2. Identify aviation system efficiencies while using historical NAS performance data and trends to develop effective advance planning strategies.
  3. Provide historical data analysis, demand projections, and potential mitigation strategies for future constraint management.
  4. Use post‐event analysis and lessons learned to define and implement future strategies and operational triggers based on past performance and outcomes.
  5. Gather and share timely and continuous feedback with operational personnel to provide increased data, weather knowledge, and tools for analytical use and planning.
  1. The ATCSCC PT must:
  1. Lead the development of the OP.
  2. Formulate the OP through coordination with PT members using the OP timeline.
  3. Brief the National Operations Manager (NOM), National Traffic Management Officer (NTMO), and other ATCSCC operational elements on the OP.
  4. Post the OP on the ATCSCC website and issue as a numbered advisory.
  5. Document agreed-upon triggers in the OP.
  6. Maintain the PW.
  1. The NOM must:
  1. Direct the NTMO, ATCSCC operational units, and personnel on implementation of the OP.
  2. Coordinate with and provide direction to FAA facilities on implementation of the OP.
  1. The District TMO or designee must:
  1. Provide input to the AP.
  2. Participate via the PW in formulation and development of the OP when stated in the previous OP, when requested later by the ATCSCC, or when issues within the facility warrant participation.
  3. Provide input on:
  1. Equipment outages having an operational impact;
  2. Internal initiatives;
  3. Terminal constraints;
  4. Route closure/recovery information;
  5. Anticipated use of airborne rerouting;
  6. Anticipated use of TBM;
  7. Anticipated TMI; or
  8. Other issues which may impact operations (i.e., staffing, special events, etc.). (See FIG 18-21-1, Operational Planning Webinar Checklist.)
  1. Brief and direct facility Operational Supervisors, Traffic Management Supervisors, Traffic Management Units, and operational personnel on the implementation of the OP and gather additional information for the next conference.
  2. Coordinate with and provide direction to underlying facilities on the implementation of the OP.
  3. Monitor and assess the OP, notifying the ATCSCC of problems that may impact the OP.
  4. Provide operational feedback for use in post-operational evaluation of the OP.
  1. Terminal Facility Management must:
  1. When notified by the District TMO or designee, or ATCSCC PT, participate in the PW.
  2. Brief and direct facility operational personnel on actions required by the OP.
  3. Monitor and assess the OP, notifying the ATCSCC of problems that may impact the OP.
  4. Participate in the AP when necessary or notified.
  1. The PW participants are FAA and customer weather forecasters, FAA District TMO or designee, other FAA field facility management personnel, airline strategic planners, ATCSCC personnel, international facilities, and military and general aviation system customers.
  2. The ATCSCC is delegated the authority to direct the operation of the PW for the FAA.
  1. The ATCSCC will notify those FAA facilities required to participate as part of the PW.
  2. Military, international, and general aviation entities will be included as necessary.
  1. The PT collaborates on the formation of the OP. The OP is continuously evaluated, and updated or amended, as necessary.
  2. Weather information provided by National Weather Service meteorologists will be used in the conference. If there is a collaborative product of weather information, developed by both government and industry meteorologists, it will be used as the primary source for the PW.
  3. OP timeline (all times local/Eastern): The OP Timeline provides a continuous process and method for group decision-making and collaboration in dealing with system constraints. Modification of the timeline, participation, and scheduling is done at the discretion of the PT and as directed by the ATCSCC. The PT conducts and facilitates the PW with FAA field facilities and NAS customers beginning at 7:15 a.m. Eastern time, then every 2 hours, unless otherwise coordinated, with the last Webinar usually being conducted at 9:15 p.m. Webinar duration should be less than 30 minutes. Discuss recurring issues (e.g., VIP movements, overnight cargo operations) as necessary.


The time intervals may be varied; however, each OP and associated advisory will state the time for the next Conference.

FIG 18-21-1

Operational Planning Webinar Checklist

Review the Current OP

Review the applicable weather information
Input from the Areas

♦ Staffing
♦ Combined Sectors
♦ Current/Anticipated Weather Constraints
♦ Anticipated Initiatives
♦ Equipment
♦ Anticipated Traffic Volume
♦ Constraints/Other

Input from Approaches and Towers

♦ Staffing
♦ Current/Anticipated Weather Constraints
♦ Equipment
♦ Current Configuration and AAR
♦ Anticipated Configuration and AAR
♦ Other

Other Constraints

♦ VIP Movement
♦ Special Events
♦ Military Activities
♦ Diversions
♦ Launch/recovery activities

Flow Constrained Areas

♦ Current
♦ Anticipated Rerouting
♦ Pathfinders
♦ Recovery

Anticipated TBM Operations

♦ Alternatives
♦ Triggers Needed
♦ Exit Strategy Needed
♦ Airborne Metering
♦ Surface Metering
♦ Outages

Anticipated Traffic Management Initiatives

♦ Alternatives
♦ Triggers Needed
♦ Exit Strategy Needed