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Tips on Dealing With Special Event Traffic Procedures

NBAA Air Traffic Services offers tips to aircraft operators for dealing with air traffic management procedures during special events.

Jan. 8, 2018

There are many special events throughout the year that result in substantial increases in air traffic at one or more airports in the region where the event is being held. Well-known examples of such events include sporting events, such as the Super Bowl or NCAA Final Four, and major meetings, such as the United Nations General Assembly or Republican or Democratic National Conventions.

To avoid having airport and airspace demand exceed capacity during these events (which likely would result in significant air traffic delays), ATC managers focus on three ways to mitigate the impact that the increased air traffic might have on the safety and operational efficiency of the affected ATC facilities, airports and FBOs.

  • Airspace – ATC managers seek to maximize airspace safety and efficiency in the en route and terminal radar areas by using required/structured routes, miles-in-trail restrictions and, occasionally, airspace flow programs.
  • Runway/Terminal – Managers try and maximize the ability of airport runways to handle both arriving and departing aircraft by using ground delay programs, internal and adjacent center metering, as well as ground stops, when needed.
When dealing with air traffic management procedures during special events, aircraft operators should take several steps to ensure that they are able to fly into and out of the affected area quickly and efficiently.
  • Ramp/Parking – The number of aircraft allowed in FBO servicing and parking areas sometimes is limited. The initiatives most commonly used are parking reservation programs, gate-hold procedures and ramp bosses. Ramp bosses are commonly third-party companies hired by the airport or FBO to help meter traffic off the ramps into the aircraft movement areas. This ensures that the runway departure queues and movement areas do not become gridlocked.

When dealing with air traffic management procedures during special events, aircraft operators should take several steps to ensure that they are able to fly into and out of the affected area quickly and efficiently.

  • Contact your FBO as early as possible with dates and times of your operation. This will give you the best chance of obtaining a slot and/or parking reservation, if necessary.
  • Look for the FAA Air Traffic Procedures NOTAM for the event, which will include any specific route requirements both into and out of the area airports, as well as any specific departure procedures in place at your origin airport.
  • Have backup plans in case there are any last-minute constraints. It is common that some airports go into ground stops when FBO ramps are filled to capacity, which is often the case around Christmas and New Year’s at ski country airports such as Aspen-Pitkin County Airport/Sardy Field (ASE) in Aspen, CO, or Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE) in Eagle, CO.
  • Monitor NOTAMs for any last-minute changes at your destination airport, which may include ramp capacity updates.
  • Check for temporary flight restrictions that may limit access to the airports located near the event.

Review special traffic management resources at www.nbaa.org/airspace/alerts.

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This article originally appeared in the January/Feburary 2018 issue of Business Aviation Insider. Download the magazine app for iOS and Android tablets and smartphones.