Airline metric concepts for evaluating air traffic service performance

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Report of the
Air Traffic Services Performance Focus Group
CNS/ATM Focused Team
February 1, 1999
CNS/ATM Focused Team ATSP Focus Group
February 1, 1999 2
Executive Summary
The Communication Navigation Surveillance/Air Traffic Management Focused Team (C/AFT)
formed the Focus Group (FG) on AirTraffic Service Performance (ATSP) to facilitate global
airline consensus on the basis for evaluating the quality of Air Traffic Services (ATS). Within
this framework, ATS performance metrics fulfill several important functions. First, they define
the elements of value to the scheduled airline business. Second, they form a basis for assessing
and monitoring the services provided by the ATM system.Finally, they can become the common
criteria for developing economic models needed to predict benefits, and help make decisions
when evaluating CNS/ATM alternatives.
Because this report represents the work of the ATSP FG, its basic definition of value is related to
how the ATM system impacts the airlines’ ability to plan and operate their schedules. Each
metric concept is described within thecontext of how well it allows airlines to most effectively
use their capital assets and manpower resources to produce their primary product, the flight
schedule. This report has categorized metrics into the following basic categories of performance
objectives that define air traffic service (ATS) quality.
1. Delay
2. Predictability
3. Flexibility
4. Efficiency
5. Access
6. Cost ofService
Since the term value is used to represent the balance between the quality of air traffic services
and its cost, all metrics that attempt to evaluate ATS performance within the first five categories
must ultimately include the Cost of Service metric (ATS charges and airline costs) as their final
denominator. This report defines these five categories using high-level, conceptual metricexamples, and attempts to describe the fundamental interrelationships between them.1
Delay has traditionally been used as the most direct measure of ATS performance. However,
measuring delay against scheduled times in a congested system has become much less
meaningful over time, because so much expected delay is built into the airlines’ block times to
maintain operating integrity. Conceptually,delays should be measured by comparing actual flight
times against baselined optimum times, not scheduled times, in order to assess overall ATM
system performance.
Predictability is a measure of delay variance against a performance dependability target. As the
variance of expected delay increases, it becomes a very serious concern for airlines when
developing and operating their schedules.Conceptually, predictability metrics should be a
comparison of the actual flight time to the scheduled flight time, since the scheduled time
includes the amount of expected delay at a targeted dependability performance.
1 To determine the true value to airlines, it is necessary to investigate Cost of Service to include costs incurred by the
ATS provider (i.e. FAA, Eurocontrol, etc.) in deliveringthe various ATS products and services. Although beyond
the scope of this initial report, it is considered an essential focus for follow-on ATSP FG activities.
CNS/ATM Focused Team ATSP Focus Group
February 1, 1999 3
Flexibility is used by airlines to make tactical “trade-off” decisions in operating their schedule,
thereby permitting them to exploit operational opportunities as they occur, suchas obtaining
more favorable routes, or minimizing customer impact from unplanned capacity-constraining
events such as severe weather. Conceptually, flexibility metrics should address how well the
ATM system allows airlines to make better operating decisions dynamically.
Efficiency addresses the single-flight perspective. Its value rests in reducing direct operating costs
by optimizing...