Abstract The traffic management Advisor (TMA) is part of the FAA’s Free Flight program which has been on going for the past 12 years in an attempt to enable controllers the means in which to manage airspace and reduce delays at airports safely and more efficiently. It uses flight plan information along with environmental concerns to aide controllers in sequencing arrivals at airports and makes recommendations for traffic patterns to aide in undue congestion. The TMA has boosted efficiency of the air traffic controllers and helped in fuel efficiency and safety for the airlines, passengers and crews. The Concept of the Traffic Management Advisor The Traffic Management Advisor (TMA) is used to aide the air traffic controllers and coordinators thru graphical map, which display alerts, when dealing with aircraft when they are on the outer meter, meter fixed, final approach and threshold for landing at an airport.
The TMA schedules and sequences times for their orbits and landings at airports which take a lot of the stress and calculations away from the controllers. It also schedules their landing runways for the aircraft which helps with separation and safety of the aircraft. It does this by computing their speed and approach angles which can be seen on a live Doppler type of screen. The TMA system relies on eight processes which include the following: 1) the communications manager which shares information between its databases, 2) the radar daemon which has a link between the TMA and the controllers computer, 3) the weather daemon which uses weather information from the national weather service, 4) the timeline graphical user interface which receives and uses information from the traffic management controllers computer, 5) the route analyzer which decides which route the aircraft will use, 6) the plan view graphical user interface which uses input from the controllers and displays the information, 7) the trajectory synthesizer which determines the estimated time of arrival and the descent profile of the aircraft, and 8) the dynamic planner which determines the runway and the sequences of the other incoming traffic.
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The TMA computes the aircraft’s schedule and sequencing between 40 and 200 miles from the airport, even before they have reached the airports controlled airspace. All of this information comes from the aircraft’s flight plan and the TMA has the ability to adjust runway assignments and the sequencing of the aircraft also due to environmental conditions or in response to the input by the controllers. The TMA uses an a graphic display which shows all aircraft within its sector and each one can even be tagged with all of its appropriate information such as flight number, type, weight class, where it is fixed at the moment and the runway that it will use upon landing. It shows all of aircraft’s information in 10 minute intervals from the time that they enter the tracking zone of the airport.
This can be used by the controller to re-sequence aircraft in case there are some critical changes or emergencies that have evolved. The TMA uses multiple types of graphs and overlays that can be used to ensure that the airports will not back up or flights become delayed longer than the minimum required time to re-sequence the arriving aircraft according to the airports acceptance flow rate (CT AS, 2005).
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Initial History of the TMA The initial trial and assessment of the first TMA was conducted in 1993 at the Denver Airport. The main goals were to assess how the TMA could manage and distribute the air traffic load and change the airport acceptance rate to be more effective. The initial trial showed its capabilities that could support its users. It was found that the TMA could handle all it was designed for but the need to provide the controllers with more hands on use was evident.
The users were then asked about each of the interfaces within the TMA and to assess their feasibility by taking a written assessment and answering yes or no to each area. There were some changes that needed to be made to the TMA which included display, color coding and symbology that would match the interfaces already used by the controllers (Kelly Harwood and Beverly Sanford, 1993).
The next testing of the system occurred in 1996 at the Fort Worth Airport. This evaluation encompassed all shifts as well as times of inclement weather. The data collected showed a one to two minute delay reduction period during the rush hours of traffic. The TMA surpassed all that was hoped for in an air traffic management system and gave controllers a great tool to aide them in forecasting arriving and departing traffic safely and accurately.
The TMA remained functional even during periods of airport shutdown because of weather and constantly updated controllers on storm front passage and kept an up to date radar track. The TMA demonstrated superiority over all other systems that were in place at the time by providing safe and efficient traffic management (Ty Hoang and Harry Swenson, 1997).
Present Data of the TMA In 2002, NASA and the FAA started to develop the Muti-Center Traffic Management Advisor (McTMA), which would allow independent TMAs to talk to one another, developing a network of information which could be used across the board of airports. This was done by allowing New York, Washington, Boston, and Cleveland to monitor the Philadelphia airport in order to help alleviate congestion through better adjacent air traffic control. This data sharing network made leaps and bounds in reducing congestion not only at their airports, but within each others sectors which enabled safer and timelier arrivals and departures. The McTMA has a new scheduling module, known as the “Rate Profiler” which shows the profiles of aircraft to multiple centers, and restricts the number of aircraft in the busy portions of airspace between them.
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NASA has provided more training to the users in order to make them more proficient with the stand alone TMAs and the Mctma (Ty Hoang, 2004).
Human Factors Associated with the TMA During the testing at the Fort Worth airport, the scheduling information displayed along with the workload of the controller prior to the TMA was high. Controllers indicated a reduction in being overworked and an increase in job satisfaction. The scheduling information displayed was easy to understand and the symbology was equivalent to that already known. The TMA was designed to help the controllers by taking all the calculations, in part, away from them in order to reduce the stressful environment associated with their jobs (Swenson, Hoang, Engel land, Vincent, Sanders, Sanford, and Here, 1997).
ReferencesCTAS-Traffic Management Advisor. (n. d. ).
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The Multi-Center TMA System Architecture and its Impact on Inter-Facility Collaboration. [Electronic Version].
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Hoang, T. , Swenson, H. , (1997).
The Challenges of Field Testing the Traffic Management Advisor in an Operational Air Traffic Control Facility. [Electronic Version].
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. National Transportation Library. (1997).
Design and Operational Evaluation of the Traffic Management Advisor at the Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center. Retrieved April 10, 2005, from web 06 97.