Metroplex: Improving Traffic Flow in Complex Airspace
One of NextGen's key goals is to safely improve the efficiency of the National Airspace System by improving efficiencies at metropolitan areas with complex air traffic flows using integrated solutions.
In FAA parlance, metroplex refers to a system of airports in close proximity and their shared airspace that serve one or more major cities. A metroplex has at least one, but often two or more major commercial airports.
Each metroplex has its own unique system of airports, aircraft, weather patterns and geography that have to be considered. But each metroplex also contends with multiple airports that share the same airspace. All of these factors can lead to congestion, reduced efficiencies and delays.
In collaboration with the aviation industry the FAA has identified 21 metroplexes where improved performance could benefit not only the region, but the entire national airspace. The FAA's goal is to improve the way aircraft navigate these complex areas to make flight routes and airport access more efficient. This new way of operating can reduce fuel burn and emissions, and improve on-time performance.
Improvements in metroplex efficiency also improve flight efficiencies between the departure and arrival airports, known as city pairs. For airline operators, city-pair performance is the most direct way to connect two markets. In collaboration with the aviation industry, the FAA has identified and is measuring how NextGen metroplex improvements provide benefits between city pairs.
By improving traffic flow at the departure and arrival metroplex, overall operator and airspace benefits between city pairs increase.
The FAA works with collaborative teams of air traffic controllers, airport officials, airline representatives, general aviation operators, industry stakeholders and community representatives to study, design and implement comprehensive approaches for each metroplex. The FAA's Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in the Metroplex (OAPM) program is one of the agency's initiatives to improve regional traffic flow. The OAPM program is focusing on metroplexes.
The solutions, built on precise satellite-based navigation, smooth out flight paths and limit costly level-offs. By realigning conventional routes and shifting airspace boundaries, the FAA continues to use NextGen solutions to make air travel more efficient. This includes improving traffic flow on the airport surface, using new standards to increase arrival and departure options and creating faster connections to the most efficient flight paths.