Frequently Asked Questions

Traffic Flow Management

The following is a sampling of some common questions about flight plan filing and traffic flow management.

I am filed to fly to PHL and have an EDCT due to a ground delay program (GDP) there.  My passengers just advised that they will be 30 minutes late. Should I re-file my flight plan?

In a word, no. With a situation like this, once you have been issued an EDCT (whether it is a result of a GDP or an Airspace Flow Program), re-filing your flight plan will only put you at “the back of the line” and increase your delay.

The best course of action is to either have your flight plan service provider get your EDCT moved back (if they have that ability) or contact ground control/clearance delivery and have them do it tactically.

I am trying to depart from TEB to the west coast. The skies are clear and there is no one in line in front of me. Why am I being issued a 45-minute departure delay?

While conditions at and near the airport may be favorable, the same may not be true further down the line. Many times, ATC will hold you at your departure airport due to weather that is affecting your route further downstream.

If you have the capability, take a look at the weather radar further out and you may discover the issue. At times, the issue is not as readily apparent – there could be staffing issues in a particular en route sector or ATC may be moving traffic onto your route to take THEM out of a problem area.

Your best course of action is to ask for an alternate departure routing. Depending on where the problem is located, that may get you moving.

I just loaded up my passengers and called for clearance only to be told that I’m going to have to wait for 30 minutes. I checked the OIS page, and it didn’t show any ground stops, programs or other delays. What’s going on?

You are likely departing from within the same center or an adjacent center to your destination airport and have been captured by Time Based Metering (also known as Traffic Management Advisor or TMA).

TMA is designed to very accurately deliver traffic to a specific runway threshold or to an arrival fix.  Unfortunately, while it is very effective, there is no way to determine what your delay will be until you call for your clearance – the delays are not posted on the OIS, or anywhere else for that matter.

Your best course of action to avoid this is to call for clearance ahead of time and ask if they are running TMA to your destination airport and ask about the average delays.

This is an issue that is being worked on and we hope to have a publicly accessible way to determine TMA delays in the near future.

My departure airport is in a ground stop/Ground Delay Program (GDP) – is this going to delay my departure?

Probably not. Ground stops and GDPs control the amount of IFR traffic arriving at a specific airport. If anything, this is likely to lessen the possibility of departure delays.

For example, traffic managers run GDPs in the afternoon at JFK, on many occasions, to keep departing aircraft from experiencing significant delays during the departure push.

ATC just implemented a GDP at PHL with a really low airport acceptance rate and excessive delays.  What happens if I go to a different airport?

It depends on the situation. Remember that GDPs are airport-specific, so in this case, you will only receive an EDCT if you are going to PHL.

If the PHL program is due to excess volume, it may be a good idea to select a different airport, such as PNE, as that would remove you from the GDP. However, you might want to check with your FBO of choice at the alternate airport to see how much diversion traffic they are expecting.

If the program at PHL is due to weather (low ceilings, winds, storms, etc), the alternate airport might also be experiencing problems even though they are not in a ground stop or GDP – the same problems causing the GDP at PHL might create delays when using the alternate as well.

I just received my EDCT for an AFP, and it means taking a significant delay. What are my options?

Unfortunately, with an AFP, you have a very limited set of options, which will depend on which AFP you are trying to avoid, how much extra fuel you are willing to burn and what routes are available.

One option is to fly underneath the “floor” of the AFP. However, this is usually set at 12,000 feet, which means that you would have to be willing to fly the entire trip below that altitude.

If there is more than one AFP in use, there is sometimes a significant difference in the average delay between the two AFPs. If this is the case, you might choose to route out of one AFP and into the one with the smaller average delays.

Finally, the Command Center will sometimes provide alternate routes, such as the AZEZU route on the east coast or the CAN (Canadian) routes along the U.S./Canadian border, to allow traffic to fly around the AFPs. You may choose to use these “route out” options, but you must remember to file your new flight plan with the route exactly as noted in the reroute advisory in order to be exempted from your EDCT. One additional consideration with this third option is that you could still receive a delay due to excess miles-in-trail restrictions along these routes.