Online aviation weather resources can help schedulers and dispatchers plan trips.

Feb. 18, 2020

When unfavorable conditions threaten access to the national airspace system (NAS), NBAA Air Traffic Services (NBAA ATS) is on the job, ensuring the needs of business aircraft operators are represented at the FAA’s Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC) in Warrenton, VA. NBAA personnel have been stationed there since the original General Aviation (GA) Desk came into service in mid-2001.

“The FAA had engaged with the air-lines to develop a collaborative deci-sion-making process in which carriers shared their flight information with the agency, and the FAA in turn shared its flight planning tools,” explained NBAA ATS Senior Manager Ernie Stellings. “NBAA recognized the need for a similar arrangement to represent business aviation’s interests and to advocate on behalf of our industry.”

That effort faced some initial challenges, including the need to develop resources for business aviation comparable to the electronic data-sharing tools used by the FAA and airlines.

“Before we stood up the GA Desk (now called NBAA ATS), the FAA had limited insight into how our members operated,” said Stellings. “Since business aviation doesn’t operate on fixed schedules, it was often challenging for the FAA to plan around periods of intense business aircraft operations. Having NBAA share this data helps eliminate the number of pop-up operations and allows for better advanced planning.”

NBAA ATS also works throughout the day with Command Center personnel to plan and monitor airspace movements and participates in bihourly airspace planning teleconferences to ensure that decision-makers have input from business aviation stakeholders.

“We’ve developed a really good relationship with other stakeholders on the [Command Center] floor, and that partnership with our industry colleagues and the FAA allows the NAS to be managed in a more efficient and equitable way,” Stellings said.

NBAA members may subscribe for direct access to NBAA ATS and to share their flight planning data with the FAA.

“Subscribers have a direct link to NBAA ATS for assistance with specific flights, allowing us to help them identify potential air traffic issues early. In turn, their participation helps us know ahead of time what they have planned for the day,” said John Kosak, NBAA ATS weather specialist. “The more information we have, the better prepared we are to mitigate the impact on business aircraft operators of any required airspace flow programs or ot her major traffic-management initiatives.”

That said, Stellings noted, “We represent all of business aviation. Even those not subscribing to our services see an indirect benefit, because we’re looking out for everyone.” This effort includes utilizing social media – a Facebook Group (NBAA Air Traffic Services (ATS)) and Twitter (@NBAA_ATS) – to spread the word about flight restrictions.

“I want to use every tool available to help our subscribers and members,” Kosak said. “In the end, we all want a more efficient airspace system.”