Part 2 of 2 – Airspace and Procedures at JPDO

03.15.2010 | Diana B. Wasiuk |

Another concept under development at the JPDO that will influence how airports and airspace are utilized and planned is called  Super Density Operations.  This is basically a portfolio of new technologies and procedures for improving airport surface movements, reducing spacing and separation requirements, and better managing overall flows in and out of busy metropolitan airspace.   “Busy metropolitan airspace” is the key phrase here. Super density ops is the far-term solution for highly congested metropolitan areas.    Most of the components of Super Density Ops have been discussed at many conferences and forums in the last five years, but what is new and challenging is that the JPDO is taking a preliminary look at strategies for prioritizing flights in situations where excess demand is encountered regardless of all the NextGen improvements.

A great need will arise for achieving peak throughput performance at the busiest airports and in the busiest airspace as NextGen demand materializes.  Even with the increased capacity and operating flexibility of NextGen and Super Density Operations, there will be situations and environments in which operators will compete for a limited volume of airspace and airport facilities.  We all know that unmanaged excess demand can degrade system efficiency and cause delays that ripple through the entire air transportation system.  The good news is that NextGen 4D trajectory management, better communications vehicles, and net-enabled system wide information sharing will provide the capability for flights operating in congested environments to be rationalized and prioritized in ways that increase overall capacity and efficiency in the system.  It will also provide more predictability and flexibility for operators. To achieve maximum benefits of these capabilities however, prioritization rules, mechanisms, and regimes (derived in collaboration with users and other stakeholders), both for strategic ATM and tactical trajectory management, must be developed and applied by the NextGen 4DT automation.   One of the solutions on the table that is of special interest to those of us dealing with airspace design is the concept of applying such prioritization rules in a new type of airspace called: wait for it…. you guessed it … restricted Super Density Airspace.

As I mentioned earlier this is all at the most conceptual levels at this time as we are discussing a very complex far-term capability, but I did want to bring to your attention that there is a team of JPDO subject matter experts, FAA and industry representatives exploring and documenting  historic and proposed flight prioritization rules, mechanisms and regimes, and that they are developing  a catalog of flight prioritization options that might be feasible and helpful for Super Density Operations under NextGen.  The basic objectives of this undertaking are to :

  • Define a technical basis for developing and evaluating prioritization rules by establishing a set of metrics, weights, and criteria.
  • Provide an understanding of the decision making process as it affects flight prioritization policy decisions. 

Next up, a framework for high level federal policy on several airport related topics – so visit again soon!

About the Author
Diana Wasiuk, Vice President, COO, Chief Operating Officer, HMMH

Diana B. Wasiuk

Vice President & COO

Diana is the Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at HMMH. She provides the leadership, management and vision necessary to ensure…

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