The FAA has begun initial deployment of a new time-based flow management (TBFM) system that the agency says will optimize the flow of aircraft into busy airspace. TBFM, which was recently installed in all 20 en route air traffic control centers, supersedes the three-year-old traffic management advisor “as a time-based scheduling tool that meters aircraft through all phases of flight to deliver the correct number of aircraft to airspace sectors and down to the runway at the exact pace at which the aircraft can be accommodated.”
According to the FAA, time-based metering allows air traffic controllers to manage aircraft in congested airspace more efficiently by smoothing out irregularities and delivering a more consistent flow of traffic down to runways. Notably, TBFM’s “coupled scheduling” feature extends the practical range of metering by providing the capability to adapt meter points as much as 400 nm from the arrival Tracon boundary, allowing for earlier integration of arriving traffic.
After controller training is completed and TBFM is fully operational, the FAA expects the system to provide a better platform for NextGen operations, such as the performance-based navigation procedures that are currently being rolled out. The system will be deployed soon at Ronald Reagan Washington National, Baltimore Washington International and Cleveland Hopkins International Airports.