Section 7. Traffic Management Initiatives


Traffic Management Initiatives (TMIs) are techniques used to manage demand with capacity in the NAS.

  1. Properly coordinated and implemented TMIs are an important tool in the air traffic system. These initiatives contribute to the safe and orderly movement of air traffic.
  2. Any TMI creates an impact on customers. It is imperative to consider this impact and implement only those initiatives necessary to maintain system integrity.

TM personnel utilize a variety of tools and NAS performance information to implement TMIs that are carried out by air traffic controllers and flight operators to ensure a safe and efficient operation.


TMIs do not include controller coordinated actions. See FAA Order JO 7110.65, subparagraph 5-4-5e. Comply with restrictions issued by the receiving controller unless otherwise coordinated.


To maintain the integrity of the air traffic system, facility TM personnel must employ the least restrictive methods available to minimize delays.

  1. Altitude: used to separate different flows of traffic or flights flying in close proximity to each other.
  1. Tunneling- Term to indicate aircraft will be descended prior to the normal descent point to avoid airspace or traffic constraints.
  2. Capping- Term to indicate aircraft will be cleared to an altitude lower than their requested altitude until they are clear of a particular airspace. Capping may apply to the initial segment of the flight or for the entire flight.
  3. Low Altitude Arrival/Departure Routing (LAADR). A set of routings with altitude expectations for usage in times of capacity constraints in the NAS. LAADR may apply to the departure or the arrival phase of flight. LAADR requires a written agreement with the customers prior to implementing.
  1. Miles‐in‐trail (MIT). The number of miles required between aircraft that meet specific criteria. The criteria may be airport, fix, altitude, sector, or route specific. MIT are used to apportion traffic into manageable flows, as well as, provide space for additional traffic (merging or departing) to enter the flow of traffic.
  2. Minutes‐in‐trail (MINIT). The number of minutes required between successive aircraft. It is normally used in a nonradar environment, or when transitioning to a nonradar environment, or additional spacing is required due to aircraft deviating around weather.
  3. Fix balancing. Assigning an aircraft a fix other than in the filed flight plan in the arrival or departure phase of flight to equitably distribute demand.
  4. Airborne holding. Planned holding of aircraft may be utilized. This is normally done when the operating environment supports holding and the weather conditions are expected to improve shortly; this ensures aircraft are available to fill the capacity at the airport.
  5. Departure Sequencing Program (DSP)- Assigns a departure time to achieve a constant flow of traffic over a common point. Normally, this involves departures from multiple airports.
  6. TFMS Programs.
  1. Ground delay programs. (See Chapter 18, Section 10, Ground Delay Programs.)
  2. Airspace flow programs. (See Chapter 18, Section 11, Airspace Flow Programs (AFP).)
  3. Collaborative trajectory options program (CTOP). (See Chapter 18, Section 12, Collaborative Trajectory Options Program (CTOP).)
  1. Reroutes:
  1. Reroutes are ATC routings other than the filed flight plan. They are issued to:
  1. Ensure aircraft operate with the “flow” of traffic.
  2. Remain clear of special use airspace.
  3. Avoid congested airspace.
  4. Avoid areas of known weather or where aircraft are deviating or refusing to fly.
  1. Operators should amend flight plans when they are more than 45 minutes from departure.
  2. Sources for route information:
  1. Chart Supplement.
  2. Preferential Route Information in facilities.
  3. Route Management Tool.
  4. North American Route Notice.
  5. Federal Air Regulations.
  6. Notices to Air Missions.
  7. Advisories issued by ATCSCC. (These are listed on the Operational Information System.)
  1. Pre-departure reroute (PDRR) is a capability within TFMS that enables ATC to quickly amend and execute revised departure clearances to mitigate en route constraints or balance en route traffic flows. This capability is especially beneficial during periods of severe weather when departure routes are rapidly opening and closing.
  2. Airborne reroute (ABRR) is a capability within TFMS that is used for tactical reroutes for airborne aircraft. The ARTCC TMC uses TFMS route amendment dialog (RAD) to define a set of aircraft-specific reroutes that address a certain traffic flow problem and then electronically transmits them to ERAM for execution by the appropriate sector controllers.
  3. Trajectory options set (TOS) - A message sent by participating flight operators to TFMS defining a prioritized group of options. These preferences are defined through a combination of routes and/or altitudes and/or speeds with each trajectory being weighted through the use of flight operator submitted preferences. (See Chapter 18, Section 12, Collaborative Trajectory Options Program (CTOP), and Pilot/Controller Glossary.)
  4. More information on routes is contained in Chapter 18, Section 19, Coded Departure Routes, Section 20, Route Advisories, and Section 22, National Playbook.
  1. Ground Stops. (See Chapter 18, Section 13, Ground Stop(s).)

The above list is not all-inclusive and does not preclude the innovation and application of other procedures or traffic flow management strategies that will result in improved customer service.


The efficiency of the NAS is enhanced when all participants have access to the same data. Utilization of shared technology, e.g., Flow Constrained Area (FCA)/Flow Evaluation Area (FEA) enhances the coordination process.

  1. The ATCSCC is the approval authority for all en route and designated terminals interfacility TMIs, except as identified in subparagraph (b) below and MIT restrictions of ten (10) miles or less. TMIs that are expected to result in reportable delays must be coordinated through the ATCSCC. Reportable delays are delays of 15-minutes or more as defined in FAA Order JO 7210.55, Operational Data Reporting Requirements.


New York TRACON is a designated terminal and others may be included at the direction of System Operations.

  1. The Center/TRACON is responsible for TMI within their area of jurisdiction (underlying terminals) that do not cause reportable delays.
  1. The initiating facility must identify the need for a TMI, explore alternatives, and prepare a justification.
  2. The initiating facility must be prepared to discuss the proposal at the request of the ATCSCC and/or the receiving facility prior to implementation during the joint review process.
  3. Facilities must continuously monitor and evaluate the TMI, and make adjustments as necessary, including cancellation.
  4. Facilities must conduct post event analysis on the TMI, and document any known negative impacts/feedback.
  1. Evaluate capacity, demand, and efficiency of the operation. The assessment must include the evaluation of all data required to make an informed decision. The data may include time-based management (TBM), Flow Evaluation Areas (FEA)/Flow Constrained Areas (FCA), traffic counts and lists from the enhanced traffic management system, and coordination with impacted facilities.
  2. Consider internal options prior to requesting interfacility TMIs.
  3. When interfacility TMIs are appropriate, coordinate with the ATCSCC and provide the following information:
  1. A detailed and specific identification of the operation or NAS constraint.
  2. Intrafacility actions taken/considered.
  3. A detailed explanation of the assistance required, including options available.
  4. Identification of potential system impacts.
  1. Document the TMI in the NTML. Severe weather MIT coordinated through the ATCSCC must be entered in the NTML utilizing the “severe weather” feature by the facility requesting the MIT.


For ARTCC to ARTCC and ARTCC to N90 MIT responsibilities and coordination, refer to paragraph 18-8-5.

  1. Advise facilities of system impacts. The impacts will be determined by conferencing impacted facilities, as necessary, and may require sharing FEAs/FCAs.
  1. If a MIT restriction is modified while on the conference, the ATCSCC will modify the restriction in the NTML while on the conference.
  2. Once the restriction is coordinated, the restriction or modified restriction will be approved and sent to all relevant facilities.
  1. Issue a decision regarding the request. For negative responses, document the rationale in disapproving the request.
  2. Issue advisories, as appropriate.
  3. Monitor TMI pertinent to the position of operation.
  4. Maintain a database of MIT TMI for historical and statistical analysis.

Facilities must:

  1. Coordinate TMIs with all impacted facilities within their jurisdiction.
  2. Contact the ATCSCC at any time internal restrictions may result in reportable delays; have an adverse affect on other national initiatives; or result in the implementation of additional initiatives.
  3. Enter all applicable information in the NTML.

TMIs must be coordinated consistent with the following procedures:

  1. The requesting facility notifies the providing facility in a timely manner.
  2. The TMI must not exceed four (4) hours.
  3. The TMI is documented in the NTML, including justification and any negative impacts associated with the TMI.
  4. If the facilities cannot reach agreement, the restriction request is forwarded to the ATCSCC for resolution.
  5. The ATCSCC may suspend these procedures at any time by notifying the impacted facilities.
  1. All FAA TMUs requesting initiatives of 25 MIT or greater must:
  1. Create an FEA that:
  1. Adequately represents the constrained area.
  2. Captures the flights affected by the requested initiative.
  1. Share the FEA with the ATCSCC.
  2. Enter the name of the FEA in the remarks section of the NTML Restrictions tab and coordinate justification for the restriction.


  1. TMUs are exempt from creating FEAs for situations that cannot be represented due to filtering limitations in the FEA tool.
  2. Flights to specific runways, flights using specific departure procedures, flights that may be offloaded to alternative routing are examples of items that cannot be represented.
  1. If an extension to a 25 MIT or greater restriction is necessary, the TMU must:
  1. Amend the shared FEA end time to cover the revised time period.
  2. Coordinate the extension request with the ATCSCC.
  1. The ATCSCC may suspend the requirements for facilities to develop FEAs associated with MIT restrictions at any time.
  2. Any MIT request of 40 MIT or greater requires a conference with the ATCSCC and the requesting facility must advise their General Manager the reason for the restriction request.
  1. ARTCCs must:
  1. Provide a basic capping and tunneling plan in coordination with affected TRACON for all airports listed in the Operational Evolution Partnership, as a minimum.
  2. Develop, maintain, coordinate, and modify all capping and tunneling plans with the TMU, the ATCSCC, and affected facilities within or adjacent to their area of jurisdiction.
  3. Complete capping and tunneling plans by March 1, 2009, and update their plans biannually, no later than May 1 and November 1 of each calendar year.
  4. Include in the plan:
  1. A description of planned capping and tunneling procedures that may be used within the departure ARTCC airspace.
  2. Directions of use (for example, North Plan, South Plan, etc.).
  3. Altitudes, including expected start and/or end points of capping and tunneling actions.
  4. Routes and distances of expected use.
  5. Information concerning how and when the plan affects arrivals, departures, terminal or en route airspace.
  6. All facilities impacted.
  1. ARTCC TMUs must:
  1. Submit facility capping and tunneling plans to the ATCSCC Automation Office for inclusion in the Operational Information System by May 15 and November 15 of each calendar year. This will allow facilities and customers to evaluate the impact of these plans and any possible strategic and tactical options to them.
  2. Coordinate capping and tunneling plans through the ATCSCC before implementation.
  3. Coordinate issues, alternate initiatives, and exit strategies with the ATCSCC and affected facilities.


Capping and tunneling can provide a rapid solution to some situations; however, consideration needs to be given to potential weather constraints, such as turbulence and icing, and the effects of fuel and flight time for the aircraft included.

  1. Provide local information to aid the ATCSCC with developing alternative, successful reroute options for customers to consider, as needed.
  2. Implement tactical initiatives and update as necessary, for example, MIT/MINIT.
  3. Coordinate changes or cancellation of capping and tunneling plans with the ATCSCC and affected facilities.
  1. The ATCSCC must:
  1. Respond to requests for the implementation of the capping and tunneling plan and evaluate possible alternatives.
  2. Notify affected facilities and customers of capping and tunneling implementation and the airports, routes, and/or airspace that will be impacted.
  3. Transmit planned advisories before implementation of capping and tunneling, when applicable. Provide details regarding distance and altitude information, when available.
  4. Transmit required advisories to implement capping and tunneling plans. This advisory should specify airports included, alternate routes and options as able, expected duration, transition points (route or altitude), reason for implementation, and modifications to the plan.
  5. Evaluate and advise affected facilities and customers of cancellation of capping and tunneling initiatives, as appropriate.