March 9, 2009

I've unchained the beast

The last post about EWR metering has gotten some comments that I'd like to clarify to everyone involved. I would like to thank the Cleveland controllers for taking the time to add in their perspective.

The first point is that this is complicated, and it is difficult to get two straight answers from anyone above the controller level about what is going on.

Secondly, I tried my best in the previous post to emphasize my discontent with the metering program for our problems. I was unaware of how the Singapore flight enters Cleveland Center. I only see the departure airport, some radials off a VOR in Cleveland Center, direct to the first fix in my airspace. I was under the impression that there were numerous sectors involved (again, misinformation from above). When only one sector (and it's the first sector in US airspace, no less) is supposed to delay a Newark while the system is designed for 3 or 4 to do the work over a larger space and time, often there is no way to meet the meter time except by holding, which may seem impractical at such a great distance from the airport. As controllers, any time we get a meter time that we don't foresee a good way of meeting, we're supposed to bring it up with our area supervisor. This is what facilitated the phone call to my area in the aforementioned situation. This is where the problem lies: between the GEE sector telling their supervisor about their excessive meter time and my supervisor running over and yelling at me for doing what I felt was best for my sector.

I will apologize to the ZOB controllers for what appears to be a smack to their face for "not doing their jobs", but any and all references to "Cleveland" in the last post references management and TMU for saying "its all taken care of, just flash him to Boston". No one in Boston ever got a call asking for relief on the time. So while it appeared on the surface that the GEE controller wasn't meeting his/her meter time, the problem was really in the form of inter-facility communication between managers and traffic management. I should have made that more obvious before.

On why this metering thing doesn't make any sense: I have spoken recently, in detail, to my own traffic management and received alot of comments to the tone of "no one around us likes it, so they're trying to bring it down so we don't have to meter anymore". This may or may not be true. Maybe no one wants to play along with the game when we don't know the rules. In addition, I was told anytime there is an excessive meter delay, TMU just artificially increases the arrival rate in the metering computer, so the delays appear reduced. This just leads to more aircraft being handed off to New York Approach than they can handle, since the ACTUAL arrival rate at Newark hasn't increased. We get put in the hold, since approach is overwhelmed, and the meter times are no long valid.

Alot happens between the first sector in Cleveland Center that meters to Newark and the handoff to the Newark tower controller on final approach. I only get the perspective and opinions from within the confines of Boston Center. I've been meaning to take a road trip to Oberlin and Long Island since this Metering started to see how it works in other facilities. Boston has its own issues, and we're only a small portion of the program. Clearly, by the time issues are passed along from manager to manager, from center to center, from center to approach, and from anyone to the command center, the message and frustration is lost. Any and all comments from controllers involved in EWR metering is more than welcome. Please add your two cents. Hopefully we can learn something together.

Till next time....


1 comment:

ZOB controller said...

I can understand your frustrations, bet you expected the FAA to be, well, different. And at one time it was, but the current run it like a business philosophy of the current failed managers has nothing but dollar signs dancing in their heads. i can hear the telcons now, "i don't care if it doesn't work, we paid alot of money for this system, MAKE IT WORK!!" of course the people saying this don't have to work with the system everyday.

well, sometimes you just can't pound a square peg in a round hole.

metering may work fine when it's one center doing all the metering, but throw in 3 centers, then add a foreign country and all the problems we have with the simple interface with them, and suddenly a simple theory becomes a complex operation.

if i remember right, the old timers told me when i was in training in ZNY, that they attempted metering in the northeast before and it was a disaster. well guess what, it is once again.

the faa should really look at history, anyone remember the IBM sector suite concepts?? can you say ERAM??? hmmmmmmm, how many billions will go to waste on the next failed project? oh the execs at lock-mart will line their pockets, and we'll still be WORKING AROUND problems for years to come. run it like a business?? check the economy, how's that working out, oh yeah about the same as the FAA.