The FAA ran the first trial of its new airspace flow program (AFP) during this summer’s severe weather season. The AFP imposes ground delays on traffic inbound to the Northeast U.S. when severe weather crops up and affects air traffic flow. During severe weather action plan (swap) events, pilots flying to destinations in the Northeast must check the AFP Web site to obtain expect departure clearance times, which are adjusted to moderate traffic flow through delay-causing chokepoints. The AFP employs pre-arranged “scenarios” to manage traffic most efficiently during swap events.
During this year’s severe weather season, AFP was implemented just 19 times, according to Jo Damato, NBAA senior manager air traffic and business aviation’s point person at the FAA’s Potomac Tracon near Washington, D.C.
The results from the summer events indicated that unscheduled arrivals might have faced longer delays compared to pre-AFP operations, but these delays “should have been equitable with the rest of the delayed traffic,” said Damato. She recommends that AFP scenario floors be raised and ceilings lowered so business aircraft can fly under or over them. Damato and NBAA will offer suggestions at the off-season collaborative decision-making work group meetings later this year.