Tactical Airport Departure Flow Management

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Current departure procedures in the National Aviation System (NAS) seek to balance departure demand with terminal, en route and downstream capacity. In part this is accomplished with ATC Tower, TRACON and ARTCC personnel working in concert to produce timed sequences for departing aircraft and through the use of specific traffic management initiatives (TMIs) such as miles-in-trail. Today, much of Departure Flow Management (DFM) is accomplished via manually intensive tactical decision making. Specifically, a method referred to as APREQ or “approval request” defines a process where a facility (either airport or Terminal Radar Approach CONtrol - TRACON) must call via the telephone and receive departure release approval from an Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) for specific departing flights. These APREQ flights are identified by the Air Traffic Control Systems Command Center (ATCSCC) and/or ARTCC because the flight is (or may be) affected by some type of constraint. Ultimately, this process is to ensure that aircraft are arriving at a given point in the airspace (to merge into a flow) or at an airport at a proper time and in proper sequence. Today, this process can be time consuming and cumbersome and it requires major collaboration between the various facilities. In this paper, we will discuss methods supported by the DFM concept and decision support capabilities for increasing NAS efficiency through the tactical management of departing flights.