This paper discusses and analyzes current day utilization and performance of the tactical departure scheduling process in the National Airspace System (NAS) to understand the benefits in improving this process. The analysis used operational air traffic data from over 1,082,000 flights during the month of January, 2011. Specific metrics included the frequency of tactical departure scheduling, site specific variances in the technology’s utilization, departure time prediction compliance used in the tactical scheduling process and the performance with which the current system can predict the airborne slot that aircraft are being scheduled into from the airport surface. Operational data analysis described in this paper indicates significant room for improvement exists in the current system primarily in the area of reduced departure time prediction uncertainty. Results indicate that a significant number of tactically scheduled aircraft did not meet their scheduled departure slot due to departure time uncertainty. In addition to missed slots, the operational data analysis identified increased controller workload associated with tactical departures which were subject to traffic management manual re-scheduling or controller swaps. An analysis of achievable levels of departure time prediction accuracy as obtained by a new integrated surface and tactical scheduling tool is provided to assess the benefit it may provide as a solution to the identified shortfalls. A list of NAS facilities which are likely to receive the greatest benefit from the integrated surface and tactical scheduling technology are provided.
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