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Executive Summary
Kevin Kollman, Dispatch Network Manager, USAirways
Chris Pear, Manager of Flight Dispatch Operations, United Airlines
Mike Wambsganss, Vice President, Metron, Inc.
Collaborative Decision Making (CDM):
before the
National Civil Aviation Review Commission

Good morning. I’m Kevin Kollmann, Dispatch Network Manager with USAirways and I’m also CO-chair of the CDM Working Group which has become RTCA Special Committee 191, along with the other CO-chair, Jim Wetherly of the FAA. I’m here with two other CDM representatives, Chris Pear from United Airlines and Mike Wambsganss from Metron, Inc. to inform you of CDM and to give our recommendations regarding FAA budget matters.

Most of you have probably not heard of CDM. It isn’t common knowledge, like Free Flight, STARS, Flight 2000, or other big programs. Perhaps because it’s not a big program, at least in terms of money. The budget request per year has been less than $10M. But measured by benefits, CDM is a big program. By the estimates of ASD-400, the FAA’s cost benefits office, the initial stages of CDM, which deal with reduced airport capacity are $2.6B through the year 2004. This number represents cost savings to the industry. Include the FAA’s official measure of passenger value of time and this number becomes $8.5B. Despite this attractive benefit to cost ratio the FAA has been slow to fund CDM and the airlines have in turn been slow to fund it. This has begun to change in the recent past, in part due to the association of CDM with Free Flight. The CDM Working Group is now formally RTCA Special Committee 191, Collaborative Air Traffic Management. We are hoping this Commission can help us sustain our momentum. Our hope also is that this Commission will in time create a process whereby programs with high benefits, relatively low costs and a short time frame will not be overcome by the expensive long term projects which tend to absorb all available funding. But our hope also is that the Commission will gain an appreciation for what can be accomplished when industry and government collaborate, truly work together, to make the system safer and more efficient for all.

Mr. Wambsganss will now follow with some specifics on what we’ve accomplished to date and where we are headed, and Mr. Pear will conclude with a more detailed discussion of cost benefits and recommendations to the NCARC on budgetary matters.

Thank you. I’m Mike Wambsganss with Metron, Inc., formerly of TWA. It has been my pleasure to be a part of what is now called CDM since the very beginning when members of our group first met in March 1992. Things have changed dramatically since then. In 1992 the airlines and the FAA had a clear "us against them" mentality with respect to the management of traffic flow. The airline representatives didn’t especially trust each other either. They are competitors after all. But for anyone who attended the last monthly CDM meeting, hosted by Southwest Airlines, it would be difficult to imagine that these attitudes once existed. There were representatives from American Airlines, USAirways, United, Delta, Southwest, Northwest, TWA, Continental, the Airline Dispatchers Federation, all long term participants, working closely with some of the newer comers such as UPS, FedEx, and Continental Express. And discussing serious issues with FAA personnel from the Command Center, from the requirements office, and from acquisition and development; refining concepts, going over schedules and resolving open issues. Operations experts and technical experts from the airlines, working closely with professors from MIT, UMD and Ohio State, with government contractors such as Metron, Volpe, Mitre and TRW, and with Eurocontrol, who are active CDM participants and are closely monitoring our progress. We increasingly are reaching out to other vital components of the aviation community that have much to offer, such as general aviation, business aviation, and airport operations.

The original topic of this group that brought us together in 1992 was how to improve upon what are called Ground Delay Programs, which are used to deal with reductions in airport capacity (usually the result of bad weather). The airlines back in 1992 felt that the current approach was very inefficient and inflexible. The FAA felt that the information they used for decision making was very inaccurate and they blamed the airlines for not giving them better information on their schedules and intentions. In time both the airlines and the FAA have concluded that both points of view were correct; that the system must become more efficient, more flexible, and that the information on which both the FAA and the users of the system base their decisions must be more accurate. This realization led to the creation of the CDM program. This portion of CDM, known as Ground Delay Enhancements, is very mature and our efforts focus on implementation progress: technical issues, schedules, software testing, and the recent implementation of the AOCnet, a communications system designed to support two-way data exchange. This network is being funded by the airlines, with the FAA funding the connection to the existing traffic management system.

The CDM group is now expanding into other areas. A Collaborative Routing sub-group has been formed to examine ways of improving on methods to route around congested airspace and weather fronts. This group is following the same paradigm established with Ground Delay Enhancements. The FAA identifies the constraints in the system and the NAS users operate within the constraints and communicate their intentions to the FAA. This paradigm actually forms the basis of CDM for it is the clarification and acceptance of our mutual roles and responsibilities that make collaboration possible.

There is also a NAS Status sub-group which is exploring the expansion of data exchange to include additional information critical to safe and efficient operations. The openness with which the FAA representatives are examining ways to make critical operational data available just amazes me when I turn back the clock and recall that it took an act of congress to force the FAA to make ASD data available to the users. This Commission could help this process immensely by establishing that operational information contained within the FAA’s systems must be made available to those who operate in the National Airspace System.

Mr. Chris Pear from United Airlines will speak directly to user benefits. I would like to say a few words about FAA benefits. The improved information inherent in the data exchange will improve system predictability. With improved system predictability comes improved system safety and efficiencies. In other words the FAA can do their job better. There have also been tools developed that enable Traffic Managers to explore multiple options in short periods of time, reducing controller workload. This reduction makes it possible to explore a greater range of options and gives Traffic Managers more time to examine alternatives and select the best way of dealing with a particular situation.

To conclude, CDM is consistently looking for the win-win situation. We found it with Ground Delay Enhancements and we expect to find it with our other initiatives. A win-win is a situation where the overall safety and efficiency of the system is improved while individual users are able to more efficiently manage their own resources within the constraints of the system. Thank you and now Chris Pear will conclude with our recommendations.

I’m Chris Pear, Manager of Flight Dispatch Operations for United Airlines and also co-chair of the CDM Collaborative Routing sub-group and Chair of the AOCnet steering committee. We, the CDM Group, have accomplished much. The AOCnet, a communications intranet that recently went on-line is a significant accomplishment and will support two-way data exchange for years to come. The Flight Schedule Monitor (FSM), developed primarily for use by FAA Traffic Managers and funded by the FAA, contains functionality that is also important to the airlines. This system has been made available to any NAS user who signs a Memorandum of Agreement with the FAA. The FAA and the users will now have the same tool, the same information and the same picture of the problem when dealing with traffic flow problems.

And we expect to accomplish more. But funding is, and has been an issue. Much of what goes operational this summer could have been ready a couple years ago, but the FAA was unwilling to fund it. This despite the benefits estimates of ASD-400, the cost/benefit organization of the FAA. This organization estimated that the initial stage of CDM alone, what we call Ground Delay Enhancements, will produce nearly one half billion dollars in cost reduction to NAS users per year, and much higher savings to the public when one considers passenger value of time. These numbers are not just guesses. I was personally involved in the human-in-the-loop exercises that helped measure the benefits. During one Chicago scenario there were snow storm conditions at O’Hare at the time so we used the actual weather to drive our scenario. Myself, and my counterpart from American Airlines, using laptops and modems pulled up actual information from our operational control centers. Using this real information we were able to verify that the CDM process would have resulted in a delay reduction of 25% over the current system.

But CDM is not very costly, does not require elegant high technology solutions, and in short, could not capture the interest of those who establish FAA funding priorities. There has been some change in this recently, particularly with the advent of Free Flight, but there remain uncertainties in future year funding, despite the benefits estimates, and despite the fact that the airlines have already collectively invested much more than the FAA. Already critical parts of Ground Delay Enhancements had to be slipped into next year due to funding shortfalls. The total funding for CDM this year by the FAA was less than $5M. We are not talking about huge expenditures.

Our recommendation to the Commission is to embrace collaboration and that the government continue to fund CDM activities. We further recommend that the Commission develop a process where the users of this system can have serious input in the definition of requirements, in the crafting of budget requests to congress and in the prioritization of FAA budgets. We also encourage the government not to put all the available funds into high cost, long term projects at the expense of low cost, high benefit, short term projects, which has seemingly been the pattern in the past. And finally, to re-emphasis an earlier point, establish a set of rules whereby operational information contained in FAA systems is made available to the users of the National Airspace System.

Thank you for your consideration.