Skip to page content

Performance Success Stories

NextGen Opens a Window to Airports

  • SVT provides a real-time visual depiction of an airport’s surface traffic, allowing TRACON controllers to “see” airport surface traffic, as if they were in the tower.
  • Current SVT sites include: Southern California TRACON, Northern California TRACON, New York TRACON, Potomac TRACON, Chicago TRACON, Boston TRACON, Houston TRACON, Louisville TRACON, Los Angeles ARTCC, New York ARTCC and the Air Traffic Control System Command Center.
Screen shot of SVT tool.
Courtesy of FAA

Airports referenced in this story

NextGen Implementation Plan (PDF)

Improved Surface Operations
Focuses on improved airport surveillance information, automation to support airport configuration management and runway assignments and enhanced cockpit displays to provide increased situational awareness for controllers and pilots; a key step is sharing airport surface information with authorized stakeholders.

If a picture is worth a thousand words then the System Wide Information Management Surface Visualization Tool (SVT) is saving thousands of words about traffic every day.

The SVT NextGen prototype is being used by air traffic controllers in Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facilities and Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC) to manage aircraft to and from cruising altitudes down to the airport. They accomplish this by monitoring traffic indoors from radar screens. SVT provides them a picture of airport surface traffic in real time, as if they were in the airport tower.

"Having the SVT is like a window to the airport. We know when the aircraft are pushing back and taxiing out," said Lori Penwell, quality control manager at Southern California TRACON (SCT). "Our procedures have not changed since the tool is not used for separation, but our dialogue is shorter and more concise as we (TRACON and tower) are both working off the same information."

SCT controllers requested the tool to assist them during a planned runway construction project at Los Angeles International Airport that closed runways and taxiways. SVT has been in operation there since April 2014 and has been deployed in seven more TRACONs and the Air Traffic Control System Command Center.

SCT controllers call it a "game changer." During high traffic volume with metering in effect, or inclement weather, SVT provides real-time data to help controllers with decision making to keep traffic flowing with minimal impact.

"We can make real-time adjustments to miles-in-trail restrictions that impact an airport," said Julianne Peterson, SCT traffic management coordinator, referring to a technique to manage traffic. "We can see why an airplane executes a missed approach, see runway and taxiway closures, and the impact of VIP movement."

Since departures are color-coded on SVT, it has aided TRACON controllers to determine how busy a departure route may become in real-time, rather than estimates, allowing for greater predictability. For arrivals, the SVT prototype has also allowed greater predictability through real-time observations of airfield activity to adjust and better manage traffic spacing to an airport.

SVT is part of the early implementation of the Terminal Flight Data Manager (TFDM) program. The prototype will be evaluated after deployment data is gathered, and a future NextGen technology, adaptable for each location, will become part of the TFDM system.

SCT controllers began advocating for this tool after seeing the surface surveillance data generated by Airport Surface Detection Equipment Model X (ASDE-X). They saw an opportunity to improve operations by using information that was then unavailable to them. An existing DOT/Volpe tool was adapted by the FAA using ASDE-X data to create the SVT prototype. The data from ASDE-X is provided to the tool via the SWIM network. Development was supported by collaboration between DOT/Volpe, the FAA, National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), the Airport Surface Efficiency office, the SWIM office, and the Professional Aviation System Specialists (PASS).

Deployment of the SVT is one of the commitments in the NextGen Priorities Joint Implementation Plan.

Page last modified:

This page was originally published at: