Airservices Australia is undertaking a broad ranging industry consultation on the viability of designing and installing a Long Range Air Traffic Flow Management (LR-ATFM) System for Australian airspace.
If a viable LR-ATFM solution is identified then LR-ATFM is expected to deliver a range of benefits to the aviation industry, including reduced aircraft fuel burn, increased air traffic predictability and reduced controller workload allowing for more efficient operations.
Currently, Airservices has been applying a limited form of LR-ATFM at Sydney and Perth largely based on procedures and manual interaction.
Research conducted by Airservices has concluded that there are currently no demonstrated technology-based LR-ATFM systems operating in the world. This research outcome has led Airservices to invite industry discussion on how the problem statement could be solved using existing technology in a new way or with completely new technology.
Demand and capacity management in Australia is primarily managed through the use of pre-departure Ground Delay Programs (GDPs) at major airports. When a demand and capacity imbalance is predicted at an airport, ground delay is allocated to domestic flights to meter demand.
International flights are exempt from being allocated ground delay (depicted in the diagram below), and are allocated an arrival slot based on the best available estimated arrival time, which can be basic if the flight has not yet departed.
Long haul international flights often experience a large variation from this expected arrival time, which subsequently causes interference with GDP-metered flights as no adequate controls are in place to predictably integrate these different types of demand into the tactical environment. This results in increased airborne delay for all flights, and acts counterintuitively to the positive network management effects intended under the GDP.
The main concept of LR-ATFM is to enhance demand and capacity management by providing a network-control lever for the demand associated with long range (international) flights.
LR-ATFM is one component of a holistic approach to network management; it complements the other elements of network management to enable more equitable and more accurate demand and capacity balancing for all flights.
See also http://www.airservicesaustralia.com/projects/collaborative-decision-making-cdm/air-traffic-flow-management/ for further information on the GDP and the current traffic flow implementation.