Business Aviation Insider - November/December 2013 (PREVIEW) - (Page 32)
FileSmart Techniques Improve Operator,
ATC System Efficiency
Engineers understand that the most stable
structure has three legs, and NBAA's FileSmart
initiative fits that description. The three essentials?
File early; file accurately; and check the National
Airspace System (NAS) as part of the flight planning process. Keeping those fundamentals in
mind makes for a stable relationship with air traffic control and saves time and money in the long
The FileSmart program was announced at the
NBAA Regional Forum at New York's White Plains
Airport (HPN) in June. It's a collaborative effort of
NBAA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA),
the National Air Transportation Association (NATA)
and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
NBAA's Air Traffic Management Specialist Jim McClay was instrumental in developing the FileSmart program
and is one of its greatest advocates. He noted that the ways that the FAA uses computer automation to
manage the NAS has changed a great deal over the past decade. FAA's Traffic Flow Management System
(TFMS) not only keeps track of real-time air traffic, but also leverages historical data to predict traffic flow to and
from choke points in the air traffic system. Traffic management initiatives (TMIs) help keep air traffic fluid, but
TMIs sometimes involve ground delay programs, ground stops or other tools. Understanding the system and
using it to its best advantages is the goal of FileSmart, and, so far, it's working, said McClay.
According to McClay, most pilots don't file their flight plans until shortly before their flights - and when they do,
they often do not take NAS conditions into account. "The NAS has gotten more complicated, and getting a
flight plan into the TFMS sooner can move you up in the line when it comes to TMIs," he said.
McClay acknowledges that for some Part 135 and other on-demand operations, filing early might not always
be possible, but for Part 91 operators who usually know at least the night before what their trip will entail, that's
the best time to file, McClay said.
McClay also said it is important for aircraft operators to understand how their flight plan service providers
operate, if they use one. Depending on the provider, there may be a delay between the time an aircraft operator
submits a flight plan to the provider and when that flight plan actually makes it into the TFMS. Aircraft operators
should take those possible delays into account when filing flight plans.
Some pilots may believe it's a lot easier to file GPS direct, and then sort out the actual clearance along the way.
What these operators may not realize, said McClay, is that strategy could be shooting their flight plan in the
If preferred routes exist in the airspace these aircraft fly through, especially if the destination is a busy
airport, those routes should be used. Filing direct just makes more work for the traffic management system,
32 | Business Aviation Insider
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