Severe weather avoidance program performance metrics for New York departure operations

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Tuesday, 19 January 2010: 8:45 AM
B314 (GWCC)
Ngaire Underhill, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, MA; and R. DeLaura and M. Robinson

Presentation PDF (937.4 kB)

When operationally significant weather affects the National Airspace System (NAS) a Severe Weather Avoidance Program (SWAP) is initiated. Each SWAP event is a unique mix of demand, weather conditions, traffic flow management (TFM) initiatives and traffic movement. Following a SWAP, the day's events are reviewed and the TFM initiatives used are evaluated to understand their impact on the traffic flows, benefits, and disadvantages. These analyses require an accurate representation of the conditions during SWAP and objective, data-driven metrics to determine the effectiveness of the implemented TFM initiatives, and to identify opportunities for improved decision making in future events.

As part of the ongoing development and evaluation of the Route Availability Planning Tool (RAPT), a departure management decision support prototype currently deployed in New York, several detailed metrics were developed to streamline these analyses. This paper focuses on metrics that address the most significant concern regarding departure flows from New York airports: the timely reopening of departure routes that have been closed due to convective weather impacts. These metrics are derived from two datasets: flight tracks from the Enhanced Traffic Management System (ETMS) to monitor the flight traffic, and route blockage from the Route Availability Planning Tool (RAPT) to determine the impact of weather on routes.

RAPT automatically identifies Post-Impact-GREENs (PIGs) - the period of time when routes are clear (‘GREEN') after being blocked by convective weather. Identifying PIGs early is a key element of the RAPT concept of operations, which enables traffic managers to restart traffic flow sooner along these routes, alleviating backed up ground conditions and reducing delay times for waiting flights. An automated system, that correlates PIGs identified by RAPT with departure traffic flows, calculates both the time from the appearance of each PIG until the first departure along the PIG route, and the departure rate on the route during the PIG period. Short times to first departure and high departure rates during PIGs indicate efficient departure management during SWAP.

Arrival aircraft deviating into departure airspace is also managed by closing the departure route until the danger from incurring flights has passed. Arrival incursions are sometimes recorded in the National Traffic Management Log (NTML), but the extent to which the deviations occur is unmeasured. Lack of details regarding deviations limits evaluation of implemented responses and alternative actions. New algorithms comparing clear weather vs. SWAP traffic flows enables the locations and durations of incursions to be identified. Exact figures detailing incursions allows for thorough review as well as recognition of areas of frequent incursions and the potential for developing a targeted response for like situations.

Full flight tracks of arriving and departing flights provide significant insight into the status of the NAS. During SWAP when the airspace capacity is decreased and airport operation rates are limited, airborne aircraft by protocol receive priority. Arrival numbers can completely dominate operations at these times both in the air and on the ground, draining the resources available for departures in particular flows or for an entire region. To convey cases where departure infrequency results from these conditions, arrival and departure counts grouped according to direction of travel are calculated on an hourly basis.

Results from the automated analysis are made available on the RAPT Evaluation and Post Event Analysis Tool (REPEAT) website by 7AM ET for the FAA Northeast tactical review teleconferences, and are being tracked over the convective season for further analysis of operational performance. This paper will present the techniques used in the automated system and initial results from the analysis of operational data.

*This work was sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration under Air Force Contract No. FA8721-05-C-0002. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the authors and are not necessarily endorsed by the United States Government.