Airspace Flow Programs
Optimizes en route traffic during severe weather, seasonal travel and high-capacity events
The Airspace Flow Program (AFP) capability was introduced in the summer of 2006 and marked a significant step in en route traffic management. AFPs bring the benefits of demand management to congested airspace. An AFP is defined as a traffic management process that identifies constraints in an en route system, develops a real-time list of flights in a over-capacity area and distributes departure controls to flights through the area at a manageable rate. AFPs required extensive revisions to the existing Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) decision support tools, an entirely new way of thinking on the part of the FAA traffic managers and flight operators and a detailed set of tested operational procedures. The entire AFP capability evolved from concept to national deployment made possible through extensive use of Human-In-The-Loop (HITL) simulation exercises using Integrated Simulation Environment (ISE) and the Concept Engineering and Development (CED) process.
The principal motivation for deployment was to manage severe weather events in the heavily travelled air corridors in the northeast U.S. Since then, the aviation community found additional applications for this flexible, powerful capability. AFPs have been used to manage vacation traffic to and from Mexico, schedule arrival traffic into metroplex airports such as DFW and Dallas Love, control flows to specific arrival fixes and balance delays on flights departing in interdependent airports through the New York area.
Metron Aviation in partnership with the FAA took AFPs from concept to deployment in approximately 18 months, through the use of the CED process and ISE. Post-deployment estimates from 2006-2007, show benefits to the aircraft operators and the flying public of almost $190 million, and a ten-year projected savings of $2.8 billion.