Lockheed Martin won a $344-million contract from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop and implement a NextGen technology that will improve the efficiency of departures, arrivals, and movement of aircraft on the ground. The FAA says the new technology will save time for the flying public and lessen the impact on the environment by reducing emissions and noise.

Terminal Flight Data Manager (TFDM) will replace the paper flight strips that air traffic controllers currently use at most airports to share flight plans with electronic flight strips to allow for faster and more informed tactical decisions. The electronic strips will improve work efficiency, making it easier for controllers to accommodate traffic volume changes, bad weather and other evolving situations.

Lockheed Martin will work with principal subcontractor Saab Sensis to develop the TFDM system that will work by integrating digital flight plans with surface surveillance data to create accurate, real-time predictive tools for the terminal environment. TFDM will share data among controllers, aircraft operators and airports so they can better stage arrivals and departures, and manage traffic flow within terminal airspace for greater efficiency. And, the surface departure management will improve gate departure efficiency for the airlines and will significantly reduce or eliminate queues of airplanes waiting for departure on a runway.

With TFDM, the digital flight plans used to estimate arrivals, gate push-backs, routings, departures and overall airport demand will be shared in real time among air traffic controllers, aircraft operators and airports to improve the handling of more than 40,000 flights each day. The shared awareness of aircraft on the ground and in the air will enable arrivals, departures and surface flow to be managed more efficiently, providing accurate, predictive modeling tools to improve flight efficiency from gate to gate.

Other benefits include improved aircraft traffic flow on the ground, which maximizes airport efficiency, reduced taxi-time delays, and enhanced safety through an increase in controllers’ heads-up time.

The TFDM contract period of performance has a five-year base with seven one-year options.