The Route Availability Planning Tool (RAPT): evaluation of departure management decision support in New York during the 2008 convective weather season
Severe weather avoidance programs (SWAP) due to convective weather are common in many of the busiest terminal areas in the US National Airspace System (NAS). In order to make efficient use of available airspace in rapidly evolving convective weather, it is necessary to predict the impacts of the weather on key resources (e.g., departure and arrival routes and fixes), with frequent updates as the weather changes. Currently, this prediction is a mental process that imposes a significant cognitive burden on air traffic managers. As a result, air traffic management in SWAP is often inconsistent and decisions result in less than optimal performance. The Route Availability Planning Tool (RAPT) is a prototype automated decision support tool, intended to help air traffic managers in convective weather SWAP, by predicting the impacts of convective weather on departure routes. Originally deployed in New York in August, 2002, RAPT has recently undergone two field evaluations (2007 and 2008) in order to test and refine its concept of operations, evaluate the accuracy and usefulness of its decision guidance, and estimate observed and potential delay reduction benefits that may be achieved as a result of its use. This paper presents the results of the 2008 performance evaluation, focusing on the concept of operations and the quality of decision support guidance. A second paper [1] presents analyses of delay reduction benefits and the operational decision making environment in which RAPT is deployed.