Last revised: January 23, 2017 -
by John Gibbs
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY-FLOW CONTROL
The (S) was added back to the title in the early 80’s.
(A little bit of History)
Apr 27, 1970: The Central Flow Control Facility was established at FAA Headquarters, following a study initiated in 1968, as a permanent part of the air traffic control (ATC) system. (Editors note: The Director of Air Traffic Service and later the Assistant Administrator for Air Traffic and Airways Facilities at the time was William J. Flener. Bob Martin, AT-300, is credited with being the “Father” of the Command Center. The ATCSCC became a reality in the ATC System. The center opened with a group of senior controllers from the New York, Cleveland, Chicago, Atlanta and Washington Centers as Flow Controllers, Today’s Traffic Management Coordinators).
One of the major factors in opening this facility can be seen by reviewing the next several excerpt; Jun 18-20, 1969.
However, A comment by Mr. Sid Wugalter, (I think it was 1968, then another during Easter Break in 1971)
Numerous FAA facilities felt the effects of a work stoppage by a group of angry and frustrated controllers. Additional comment by Mr. Wugalter, “PATCO was not yet created. I believe that the NY group was a NAGE oriented bunch. air traffic controllers, who claimed illness and did not report for work.” The "sick-out," resulted in increasing an already widespread flight delays, triggering congressional hearings on legislation to provide higher pay, early retirement, and other benefits for these government employed air traffic controllers.
In addition, efforts to review causes of delays and a system approach to reducing the air traffic controllers’ workload was in the mix. Of 477 controllers who took sick leave during the job action, FAA suspended at least 80 of them from three to fifteen days. On Jul 27, FAA terminated its dues withholding agreement withGroups representing the controllers, stating that it was not in the public interest to assist an organization taking part in an illegal job action. (See June11, 1969, and Oct 27, 1969.).
Comments from the first ATCSCC Secretary “It was a very important part of my life for 8 years. 1971, Lonnie Parrish has just been sent back to headquarters from Indianapolis Center to head up the CFCF as it was called then the “Command Post.” Mac Champaign was there as Lonnie's deputy, but after a year Mac retired and Lonnie was promoted elsewhere in the FAA. I was the FIRST secretary after the command post was organized and I was there helping putting together the administrative part of making it all work. Lonnie, Mac and I were on the 4th floor with the other air traffic folks and later moved to the 6th floor. The Command Post was combined us with CARF and at that time it became ATCSCC.
I realize my part didn't involve the technical aspects of how it would all work but I did sit in on some of the formation meetings.
I went to FAA at age 18 in Air Traffic back in the T-4 complex. (T-4 complex, temporary buildings that adorned “B” street south west, later renamed Independence Ave. I spent 8 years in that position and had multiple "Chiefs" that I worked for over those years. I truly became "The ATCSCC Secretary" as a result of that early experience.”
This facility was designed to assume the responsibility of establishing a system approach to handling delays and took over from the air route traffic control centers some of the responsibility for restricting the number of aircraft moving from one control center to another. Central Flow Control, with an in-house staff of 5 NWS weather forecaster, collected and correlated system-wide air traffic and weather data, using this information to prevent isolated clusters of congestion from disrupting the overall traffic flow. Linked by teletype equipment and direct telephone access to all 20 centers, the facility detected potential trouble spots and suggested to the centers such solutions as flow-control restrictions or rerouting.
(See Jul 29, 1970.)
The centers retained the authority to accept or reject the Central Flow facility's recommendations, but these decisions were now based on a much broader information base about the overall condition of the ATC system. Lacking such information before the affected centers tended to be overly defensive and concerned that CFCF did not have the same “picture” that the centers had.
For example, when a buildup of traffic forced one center to restrict the number of incoming aircraft from an adjacent center, the adjacent center might fear an impending traffic buildup in its own area and hence institute restrictions against yet another center in a domino fashion. The spreading restrictions resulted in delaying Instrument Flight Rules aircraft throughout the ATC system, often unnecessarily.
During a three-month test beginning in Jan 1970, the Central Flow facility had proved its worth in reducing delays, and had been invaluable in monitoring and rerouting traffic during the controller "sick-out" strike (see Mar 25-Apr 10, 1970).
Another problem was that NWS would not let the Meteorologists assigned to CF2 do any forecasting but restricted them to interpreting the official NWS forecast. This restriction gave fostered a lot of heartburn. Editors note: 2003 and the same exists).
The initial automation support was through Advanced Flow Control Procedures software written by MITRE and run on a simplex 9020 system at Kansas City Center. This software was taken over by the Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge and run on a computer there when KC went operational with NAS.
There were 5 GS-15 non-supervisory Flow Controllers that ran watches. At the time, probably the only non-sup 15's in the govt. In fact, stated the third CFCF Chief before he became the chief “ found myself as a GS-14 bossing 15's.” For the record the CFCF grandfathers were: Gs-15's - Mike Ollis, Jim Hutchins, Joe Regan, Jim Lang, Maurice Doc) Davis, GS-14's - Sam Rosenzweig, Bob Christopher, Merle Pitts, & Wally Cronkite; Ops & Planning - Roy Nelson; ( the original Sgt. Bilko) ,Meteorologists - Fred Bear, Tex Eakin, Chief of CARF - Addison Scott.
The first chief was Malcom (Max) Champange. Lonnie Parrish followed him, and third was Ian G. Wolf. Doc Davis was next followed by Joe Wilson from the Air Route Traffic Control Center at Leesburg. At the Helm of the Command Center to finish out the decade Was Sid Wugalter. To complete the next 20 plus years the following were managers at ATCSCC: Roger Brubaker, Edward Newbern, Timonthy Haplin;*(1 day), John Richardson, **Sam Rosenzweig (Acting), followed by John Caprisen.
John was relocated from his position under David Hurley to the sixth floor and immediately made Edward Ellenberger Manager In-charge of operations with John Gibbs Manager In-charge of all normal facility administrative positions: automation, training, quality assurance and on and on. It was here that the Hurley concept and initial plans were developed and given birth by John and John to what is now located in Herndon, VA. Joseph Foster, Charles Hall, John White, Donald Eddy (Associate-Manager),and Jack (John) Kies joined the long gray line to the top of the ATC Traffic Management Operational Food Chain.
***FAA Makes Program Change***
The ATCSCC became a stand alone facility, headquarters and regional office, (all in one). with Jack Kies advancing to its head ATT-2 and Linda Schussler taking over as the ATCSCC Facility Manager. Ben Sliney followed Linda and Michael J. Sammartino is the present Command In-Chief of the ATCSCC, (2003).
Editors note, Air Carrier Crash (Southern Airlines) Causes NTSB To Recommended the Following Action to the FAA). Apr. 17, 1978: National Weather Service meteorologists began working at 13 of FAA's Air Route Traffic Control Centers under a recently signed agreement between the two agencies. At each of those centers, a team of three NWS meteorologists provided information on hazardous weather throughout the day to center controllers, as well as to FAA towers and flight service stations.
FAA provided each center with new equipment for receiving data from NWS weather radar and satellites. This new program was part of a general effort to provide pilots with more en route weather information, since the lack of accurate knowledge of hazardous weather, particularly thunderstorms, had been found responsible for several air crashes (see May 19, 1977). NWS meteorologists were already on duty at FAA's national flow control center in Washington, and by Nov 1980, they were stationed at all U.S. mainland en route centers.
The 50113 course shortly after its conception launched a new era and investment between government, local and international and the corporate world. Each class held airline students, aviation community leaders and government officials all forced to work on a grass level approach graduating with a
(May 18, 1980: Washington State's Mt. St. Helen’s erupted, destroying over 100 square miles of timber and leaving at least 61 persons dead or missing. Ash from the volcano caused wide spread disruption, but did not close FAA facilities in the area.
The agency transmitted alert notices to inform airlines, military operators and general aviation pilots of the location of the volcanic cloud, which damaged several aircraft. It also issued a maintenance checklist for planes that had entered suspected areas.
The FAA set up a mobile air traffic control tower to assist military reconnaissance, search, and rescue missions. Interest in the threat of volcanoes to aircraft increased in 1982, when two Boeing 747s lost all engine thrust temporarily as they encountered ash from an Indonesian volcano. (See Dec. 14, 1989.)
(Editors note: It was a long weekend in DC and when the Headquarters’ personnel returned from their weekend and discovered that the ATCSCC had handled the event fantastically.
The command center supervisor had notified the entire aviation world in a matter of minutes after the eruption. The final results,
1980 Laureates Hall of Fame:
Nominated by the editors of Aviation Week & Space Technology for significant contributions to aerospace in 1980 included Edward Ellenberger, who was a supervisory air traffic controller at the FAA’s Air Traffic Control System's Command Center in Washington took for taking the initiative to expand on a national basis for the fuel-saving flow control system started earlier at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. Sid Wugalter, chief of the center at that time, backed up the grass-roots move and got the system formally approved.
Additional nominees included C.O. Reasoner, Sabe Comely, Ralph Kiss, Air Route Center Managers who played a pivotal roll in pioneering the traffic metering and spacing systems that promised average fuel savings of 650 lb. Per flight by reducing holding times at low altitudes.
Fall of 1980, The only ATCSCC flow control tools being used to manage air traffic demand at that time was known as “Quota Flow and FADT/P.”
Quota Flow allowed for all centers to send any aircraft that wanted to fly to the destination airport and once the arriving aircraft started to back up and placed in a stack the ATCSCC contacted all the centers and instituted a quota for each. The information at the time came from the time-shared program with the Boston Bank Computer.
The FAA & CAB had agreed to allow a new program called FADT/P, Fuel Advisory Departure “T” for test and “P” for actual plan to be implemented for arrivals to the Chicago O’Hara Airport. The ATCSCC specialist, three or four per shift, (the Supervisors position was under construction), would obtain contact the control tower and inquire about how many aircraft it felt it could land and placed that number into the bank shared computer program.
The computer took the list of stored aircraft using the published Airline Information Guide as it stored reference and printed out airport departure times for all aircraft. The ATCSCC specialist would then transmit these times to each departing aircraft enroute to Chicago through the departing center’s IBM computer.
The departing airport received the departure time via automatic download from the center to the airport, while the aircraft pilot received the same information from his airline dispatcher. The dispatcher also received the ATCSCC downloaded computer data. When the aircraft departed the airport enroute to Chicago his departure time, radar contact and progress throughout the system was forwarded to the ATCSCC computer system.
The ATCSCC implemented a procedure, still in effect and usable today, but long forgotten about, was the “GR&P”. The “G” stood for Ground Received Delay; The “R” was used to record any airborne delay the flight received. And, the “P” was to point out to all controllers along the aircraft route the amount of delay that the aircraft must receive prior to reaching it destination. The center controller in could make all of the entries in ‘Box 26” of the aircraft’s flight plan.
The purpose of this program design had many reasons, one, a total aircraft delay would be available at the end of the flight, for record keeping and reporting. A second was the ability to point out flights that were departing too earlier or that a individual ATC tower let the flight off too soon. When either situation occurred the arrival airport and center became overloaded and often forced arrivals into airborne holding which then cause the eventual waste of flight fuel and dollars.
Late fall of 1980: The Denver Airport, not yet approved by FAA or CAB Headquarters, was suffering extensive airborne arrival delays. The airlines, arrival center and the centers around Denver continued to complain about the airborne holding plus the stopping and starting of arrival aircraft to Denver.
The ATCSCC implemented a new program, “Expanded Quota Flow”. It seems whenever an initiate was started by the ATCSCC someone in industry had to have a name to reference it by; thus “EQF” was born. EQF simply used the same computer procedures that the FADT program did. The specialist then implemented the proposed delays on individual
1981 & The Controllers Strike
Aug 3, 1981: Nearly 12,300 members of the 15,000-member Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) went on strike, beginning at 7 a.m., EST, grounding approximately 35 percent of the nation's 14,200 daily commercial flights. The controllers struck after the failure of eleventh hour negotiations, which began 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug 2, and continued, with one break, past 2 a.m. Monday, Aug 3. Shortly before 11 a.m. on Aug 3, at an impromptu news conference, President Reagan issued the strikers a firm ultimatum: return to work within 48 hours or face permanent dismissal. The government moved swiftly on three fronts -- civil, criminal, and administrative -- to bring the full force of the law to bear on the strikers. In a series of legal steps, Federal officials:
* Asked the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to decertify PATCO as the bargaining agent for the 17,200 controllers and controller staff members.
* Moved to impound the union's $3.5 million strike fund.
* Filed criminal complaints in Federal courts in
eleven cities against twenty-two PATCO officials.
* Sought restraining orders against the strikers in
Even before the 7 a.m. walkout, a U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia signed an order directing the controllers to return to work. Late in the evening on Aug 3, another judge of the same court found the union in contempt for failing to obey the first order and imposed an accelerating schedule of fines totaling $4.7 million if the controllers failed to report to work ($250,000 for Tuesday, August 4; $500,000
for Wednesday; $1 million a day for the next four days). That judge also fined PATCO President Robert Poli $1,000 a day for each day the strike continued, through Sunday, Aug 9.
Approximately 875 controllers returned to work during the 48-hour grace period granted. After expiration of the grace period, about 11,400 controllers were dismissed. Most of those fired appealed the action, and 440 were eventually reinstated as a result of their appeals.
The strike and dismissals drastically curtailed FAA’s controller workforce. According to DOT’s FY1982 annual report, the firings reduced the number of controllers at the full performance or developmental level from about 16,375 to about 4,200. To keep the airways open, approximately 3,000 ATC supervisory personnel worked at controlling traffic.
FAA assigned assistants to support the controllers, and accelerated the hiring and training of new air traffic personnel. Military controllers arrived at FAA facilities soon after the strike began, and about 800 were ultimately assigned to the agency. The combined force was sufficiently large to handle traffic without activating the National Air Traffic Control Contingency Plan, which called for FAA itself to establish rigid, severely curtailed airline schedules and to prescribe routes and altitudes.
The day the strike began, FAA adopted Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 44, establishing provisions for implementing an interim air traffic control operations plan (see Feb 18, 1982) That plan allowed FAA, among others things, to limit the number of aircraft in the national airspace system. Hence, on Aug 5, the agency implemented a plan dubbed "Flow Control 50," whereby air carriers were required to cancel approximately 50 percent of their scheduled peak-hour flights at 22 major airports. FAA maintained an en route horizontal spacing between aircraft under instrument flight rules of up to 30 miles. Aircraft were kept on the ground, as necessary, to maintain this spacing. FAA gave priority to medical emergency flights, Presidential
flights, flights transporting critical FAA employees, and flights dictated by military necessity. General aviation flights operated under the severest restrictions. Aircraft with a gross takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or less were prohibited from flying under instrument flight rules; moreover, aircraft flying under visual flight rules were prohibited from entering terminal control areas. Other general aviation aircraft were served, as conditions permitted, on a first-come-first-served basis. (See Jul 2, 1981, and Sep 4, 1981.)
(Editors note: The “50” plan as described above was designed and developed by one ATCSCC individual, the former manager of the Command Center’s Computer site in Jacksonville, FL. This man was selected later to be one of the ATCSCC Chiefs.
The ‘50” plan used the FADT techniques and was implemented for 23 major airports throughout the United States each day during the strike activity period. At that time, 95 percent of the fly passengers flew into and out of only 23 major airports. The plan allowed the airlines to stop their flights to any one of the 23 impacted airports and then transfer their passenger between airplanes and then to continue their journey into the impacted airport. Thus flight into and out of airports not impacted could fly as necessary.
One good example of these procedures included one airline’s ability to divert all of its original scheduled flights for the Washington, D.C. Airport to Richmond, VA. Once at Richmond, the airline transferred the passengers from 4 or 5 flight to one airplane and then in agreement with the “50” plan flew that flight to Washington.
A special office was set up in the Command Center in an effort to provide service to the flying public using either the private aircraft method or military. There of course were some minor problems, but if one remembers back, your football and basketball games went as scheduled and the Washington Redskins did not take a bus to reach the Los Angles Airport to play the LA Rams. It is was true that many divorced bound charters into and out of Las Vegas flew on time.
The plan as designed and implemented by the specialist and managers of the Command Center worked so well that Top FAA Management elected to keep the FAA’S Specially Designed Contingency Plan on the shelf. This was the type of action that the aviation industry came to expect as daily routine from the ATCSCC. In fact, 9/11/2001 ATCSCC actions proved that point once again.
Dec 31, 1983: Operational use of an IBM 4341 computer began at the Central Flow Control facility at FAA's Washington headquarters. (Editors note: One of the first computers used by the Command Center was located in the ButlerBuilding of the Jacksonville ARTC Center. The software program of that era was a timeshared program with the Bank of Boston. The bank used the computer during the day and the command center used it late afternoon and evenings with a sign on of "RUN KATHY."
The new computer system that replaced the early ATCSCC computer was physically co-located at the agency's Technical Center in Atlantic City, NJ, and D.O.T Facility in Boston, Ma., (Today’s Volpe Center).
The new computer was connected by landline to terminals used by Central Flow personnel at headquarters. The IBM 4341 had 14 times more memory and was 70 percent faster than the IBM 9020A that it replaced. In addition, it allowed two-way data communication between the Flow Control facility and en route control centers (previously, this type of communication had been one-way from the en route centers through 8 specific centers before it reached the Command Center).
The computer was used to determine and monitor the number of aircraft in flight, as well as their destinations and times of arrival, so as to enable the Central Flow Facility to make tactical and strategic decisions in keeping air traffic running safely and smoothly and reducing the impact to the field controllers. (See Apr. 27, 1970, and
Spring of 1985,
FAA’s Bob Throne issues decree, “No More Changes to the Air Traffic
Automation System. Editorial comment: ATCSCC Managers almost commits
Two controllers one from Seattle and one from Memphis ARTCC’s with just the ability needed are transferred and the ATCSCC program stays a straight path. A semi-automation lab is developed behind large screen within the operational control room and flow control marches on. “GROVERJACK” takes off and the industry comes on board.
Aug. 21, 1986: FAA's Air Route Traffic Control Centers handled 112,467 en route operations, the highest single-day traffic to that date. Record operations levels at many facilities in fiscal 1986 helped to create a 19.85 percent increase in delays as compared to the previous year. During the fiscal year, FAA proceeded with implementation of a Traffic Management System integrating certain air traffic control functions to create a more orderly traffic flow. Work also continued on the Expanded East Coast Plan, the first phase of which was scheduled for implementation in 1987 (see Feb. 12, 1987). Under development since 1982, the plan was designed to alleviate congestion in the New York area and associated airspace through the use of additional departure routes and other techniques. During fiscal 1986, FAA also deployed mobile "tiger teams," personnel with expertise in a variety of air traffic control disciplines, to improve traffic management in areas experiencing substantial delays.
May 17, 1987: FAA began to fully use the Aircraft Situation Display (ASD). By 2003, called (TSD). (Editorial note: A preliminary version of the ASD was actually in use in 1985) at its Washington Headquarters’ based Central Flow Control Facility.
Sept. 17, 1991 Lights go out in NY and air traffic departure stop. Command Center’s Supervisor is invited into
The hurricane destroyed or badly harmed the homes of about 144 FAA employees in the Miami area, and the agency organized an airlift to provide emergency relief. A committee representing local agency organizations coordinated the distribution of supplies and of funds donated by FAA’ers throughout the country while the agency provided such benefits as administrative leave, counseling, and emergency loans. At the same time, FAA rushed the restoration of airspace system facilities and supported the overall Federal relief program.
(Editors note: What was left out of the base article was the impact that the ATCSCC played in this arena. This was the first time that the ATCSCC became involved with ground services. The ATCSCC employees arranged for and coordinated interstate movement of rescue vehicle, food and other services from northern location as far north as Virginia to the impact areas of south Florida. The action taken by the command center was later used as a training tool for the early day operational development of FEMA).
Apr 15, 1994: the
FAA's Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC) officially began
operations in its new location at Herndon, Va. The ATCSCC had moved from
FAA Headquarters because of size and technological constraints (see Apr
1970 to 1994-----25 years of “A Little Bit of History”
Chapter Two: 1994-2005……….FAA SPLITS TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT OFF ON TO ITS OWN.
Chapter Three: 2006 ON……….
Last revised: January 23, 2017
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