FAA Deploys Time-Based Air Traffic System

FAA in August began initial deployment of a new time-based air traffic metering tool at all 20 en route air traffic control centers across the United States.

The Time-Based Flow Management (TBFM) system, which is designed to improve the flow of aircraft within congested airspace, will replace the Traffic Management Advisor (TMA) system. It uses time-based scheduling to give controllers better predictability on airspace use, helping to optimize the traffic stream of aircraft into capacity-constrained areas. The system was produced by Lockheed Martin, as part of a 10-year $202 million contract awarded in 2010.

FAA predicts the new tool will yield a 2 percent reduction in airborne delays for metered flights when airports are at greater than 70 percent capacity, and a 5 percent reduction in ground delays for metered flights that are subjected to Miles-In-Trail restrictions during periods of high volume at destination airports.

Photo courtesy NATCA

“TBFM also relaxes some rigidness in the arrival slot calculations that was resulting in unused slots. This technology will also start to share arrival data with the Traffic Flow Management System (TFMS) which will help increase the accuracy of its trajectory predictions,” said Paul Takemoto, a spokesperson for FAA.

Additionally, through 2022 with the TBFM system, airlines are projected to save $88 million in airline direct operating costs (ADOC), $76 million in passenger value of time (PVT) savings and $85 million in cost avoidance savings to the agency itself.

The system’s Integrated Departure/Arrival Capability (IDAC) component automates the coordination and management of aircraft departures over shared and congested segments of airspace.

During the en route phase, TBFM adds additional metering points further out from arrival airports, allowing controllers to provide earlier integration of arriving flights.

“Adjustable settings within the TBFM platform allow Traffic Management Coordinators to dynamically set parameters that consider airport/runway configurations, aircraft engine type, aircraft weight class, separation matrices, airport arrival rate and more refined mile-in-trail settings if necessary,” said Steve Lee, the National Air Traffic Controller Association’s article 48 representative for TBFM.

Lee, who is also a controller at the Boston en route center, said TBFM has not “fundamentally changed the operational functionality that resided in TMA,” but that it was more of a hardware replacement for equipment that had reached the end of its lifecycle.

One major change that Lee did note, though, was the air traffic control computers’ software operating system conversion from Solaris to Linux, a change that will allow for next generation functional enhancements of the system.

As more controllers are trained and more deployment occurs beyond en route centers, TBFM will interface with NextGen’s System Wide Information Management (SWIM) component, though it is too soon to say precisely how that integration will occur, according to Lee.

Lockheed partnered with Metron Aviation and Saab Sensis Corp. to produce the new system. — Woodrow Bellamy III

UAV GPS Jamming

As part of an initiative to protect GPS technologies on small UAVs, the Navy recently conducted tests to demonstrate how miniaturized GPS protection devices can prevent interruption of this mission-critical global positioning data.

From July 10-24, the Communications and GPS Navigation Program Office (PMW/A 170), in San Diego, mounted a Small Antenna System (SAS) on an Aerostar unmanned aircraft, then placed the small UAV in a room lined with signal-absorbent material at the Facilities for Antenna and RCS Measurements (FARM), where it was subjected to GPS jamming signals.

Equipped with model jammers, the FARM facility was used as a stage for the “enemy” to jam the GPS signal and try to knock the UAV off course, said Eric Stevens, the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Communications and Navigation lead for PMW/A-170, which supplied the antenna system. Knocked off course, the UAV would not be able to relay critical intelligence back to the ground control station — disrupting communications among U.S. and allied forces’ ships, aircraft and submarines. In a worst-case scenario, GPS jamming could even cause UAVs to crash.

“If an enemy is trying to jam, or interfere, with the GPS frequency, this antenna allows us to be able to track and acquire the true GPS satellites even in the midst of this jamming and interference,” Stevens said. “What we are doing is demonstrating and quantifying the value of this antenna on small UAVs.”

PMW/A-170, aligned under the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego partnered with Naval Test Wing Atlantic, which supplied the Aerostar, to conduct July’s testing.

Equipped with the SAS, the Aerostar was also slated to be also used to support a U.S. Army pre-deployment war-game scenario conducted at Fort Polk, La., in August.



➤ Honeywell received orders for a total of 126 of its avionics suites from Russian airlines Aeroflot and UTair, and aircraft leasing firm Aviation Capital Services (ACS). The orders include 16 for Aeroflot’s Boeing 777 fleet, 50 for ACS’ new Boeing 737NGs, 40 for UTAIR’s 737NGs and 20 for its new Airbus A321 fleet.

➤ The French Military is retrofitting its fleet of 50 Puma transport helicopters with SN4500 cockpit displays from Sandel Avionics. The SN4500 features a Night Vision Imaging System option and a full-color moving map capable of supporting GPS or FMS waypoints. Sandel will install dual SN4500s in helicopters that will be operated by the French Army.

➤ ViaSat has been selected as the supplier of the Small Tactical Terminal (STT) KOR-24A to upgrade battlefield communications capabilities for the U.S. Army fleet of AH-64E Apaches. The STT is the latest generation two-channel Link 16 and VHF/UHF terminals with the capability of providing Link 16 and Soldier Radio Waveform in-flight simultaneous voice and data communications.

➤ Russian Helicopters subsidiary Kamov issued a contract to Curtiss-Wright Controls to provide flight testing avionics on the new Ka-62 cargo transport helicopter.

Under the agreement, Curtiss-Wright will supply its Acra KAM-500 data acquisition products. Kamov will use the KAM-500 to acquire and record test parameters during the Ka-62 flight test program, and submit the recorded data to FAA and EASA for certification.

➤ Turkish Airlines has selected the EP-8000 image generation system from Rockwell Collins for its flight simulation platform. The EP-800 is a liquid crystal on silicon projection system. Turkish Airlines will deploy the system across its nine flight simulators. EP-8000 has achieved Level D certification from several civil aviation regulatory authorities, according to Rockwell Collins.

➤ General Dynamics Advanced Integration Systems was awarded a 18-month, $6.1 million contract to upgrade the mission computers for the U.S. Navy’s fleet of AV-8B Harrier II fighter jets. Under the contract, General Dynamics engineers will configure the AV-8B’s mission system computers with a third-generation open systems processor.

The third-generation open systems processor will include software upgrades to host required navigation performance and area navigation flight applications.

The AV-8B Harrier II mission computers upgrades are scheduled to be complete by 2015.

➤ Wyle, of El Segundo, Calif., won a three-year $18.5 million contract to provide support for the U.S. Army’s fleet of UASs.

Under the contract, Wyle will provide engineering and testing programs to identify deployable improvements on the Gray Eagle and an assortment of fixed wing aircraft including Beechcraft, Cessna and Gulfstream aircraft.

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