Wednesday, April 5, 2017

AIR TRAFFIC FLOW MANAGEMENT



You might have noticed while purchasing a flight ticket to your desired destination, that the time taken to reach differs from peak hours compared to non-peak hours. This is because the airlines are taking slots and publishing the timings accordingly to compensate for the traffic congestion and after traffic congestion also, claiming On Time Performance.
The Domestic Air Traffic in India has so surged past few years that it is breaking the records of Demand and Capacity. Serious consequential delay of late arrival incoming aircraft, Diversion to Alternate Airport due to traffic at the destination had increased past 2-3 years. There was a much needed management system to regulate the smooth flow of air traffic avoiding delay’s and diversions.

It was much easier to buy one of the best ATFM systems from EU known as EuroControl or USA Federal Aviation Administration’s FAA ATFM. Appreciation goes to whole of Airports Authority of India. The ATFM system in India is indigenously developed by its own IT Team in consultation with their highly experienced Air traffic Controllers of India.

ATFM is the regulation of air traffic in order to avoid exceeding airport or air traffic control capacity in handling traffic, and to ensure that available capacity is used efficiently.
It is basically a forecasting tool to optimize the traffic flow hence allowing the airlines to operate with efficiency and safety.

NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) were issued recently for all the domestic flights arriving into Mumbai and Bengaluru on ATFM – Air Traffic Flow Management.

During the trails of the system, all flight destined for Mumbai (BOM), Delhi (DEL) and Bengaluru (BLR) from all over India were regulated by ATFM system.
This system will be controlled from a CCC – Central Command Center for ATFM in India which is located in New Delhi.
The domestic flight plans are generated and transmitted to Delhi CCC also along with different en-route airspace's.
The calculation is done considering SCHEDULE TIME of DEPARTURE (STD) and ESTIMATED ENROUTE TIME (EET) also known as flying hours. This process is much more complex and highly computerized.



As a (highly simplified) example, if two flights are scheduled to arrive at an airport at exactly the same time, and the airport can handle one aircraft every 3 minutes, the aircraft may be assigned delays to ensure that the second aircraft arrives 3 minutes after the first. Similarly, the first aircraft will be required to depart on schedule and not allowed to depart late. This way, the second aircraft will not need to wait in the air. ATFM system will generate a CALCULATED TAKEOFF TIME – CTOT for both of these aircraft's giving a separation of approximately 3 minutes.

FLIGHT NUMBER
IA 102
IC 191
STD
18:00 from Delhi
19:00 from Ahmedabad
EET
02:00
01:00
LANDING TIME
20:00 at Mumbai
20:00 at Mumbai
CTOT
18:00 from Delhi
19:03 from Ahmedabad
Revised LANDING TIME
20:00 at Mumbai
20:03 at Mumbai

This system has more and more benefits and still counting:

  • Ensure safe separation between 2 aircraft's will enhance flight safety;
  • Make efficient use of available capacity of the airspace and airports;
  • Manage controller workload;
  • Fuel saving will lead to increase in profitability and environmental efficiency;
  • Improved on-time arrivals thus minimizing delays, optimizing passenger/crew/aircraft connections.

The trails conducted in the month of January and March were highly successful from the Airlines as well as Air Traffic Control point of view. Soon this system will be implemented all over the major airports in India.
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