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An evolution in air traffic management
Trajectory-based operations (TBO) represents a fundamental shift from a system based on regular air traffic services (ATS) intervention to one that takes into account the full picture of a flight from takeoff to landing.
How does it work?
Currently, an aircraft may be subject to several tactical interventions by air traffic services during its flight. This can include several altitude changes, speed instructions and heading alterations. These interventions are generally based on the conditions and traffic within the specific area of airspace an aircraft is situated in, but can have unintended impacts further down the trip. For example, an aircraft may be sped up in one sector, only to be placed in a holding pattern as it approaches its destination due to congestion at the airport.
The concept of TBO involves leveraging advances in technology to approach air traffic management from a more strategic and less tactical perspective. It allows an aircraft to fly to its destination with minimal intervention based on a pre-determined four-dimensional flight path viewed in its entirety.
This is how it works:
An aircraft's full flight trajectory is submitted to NAV CANADA well in advance of takeoff.
The trajectory takes all four dimensions into account, meaning the time the aircraft will be at any point in space along its route is predetermined.
The proposed trajectory is negotiated electronically, taking into account all parties' requirements, other traffic and external factors such as weather.
Because the full trajectory is known, shared between all impacted parties and updated as required throughout the flight, the aircraft can safely proceed to its destination with minimal air traffic services intervention.
NAV CANADA will continue to ensure our skies are kept safe. Air traffic services personnel will leverage communication and surveillance technology to monitor aircraft and provide information and instructions to pilots as required.
TBO moves us from the tactical to the strategic. It helps us balance capacity with demand, and enables us to reduce fuel burn, helping the environment and helping our airline customers.
— Mark Cooper, Vice President, Chief Technology and Information Officer
TBO is not a single project, but an evolution of capabilities dependent on technology development and extensive collaboration with stakeholders. It is mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as part of the Aviation System Block Upgrade (ASBU) framework and has the full support of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
We are currently collaborating with our customers, stakeholders and employees in the early design stages of this exciting shift towards strategic end-to-end management of air traffic.