Playing the Game, With Their Toys

Tired of flipping through the “green books” looking for the preferred routes you’re probably going to get when you file your IFR flight plan? If you live in California or the Northeast corridor, maybe you’ve looked over the list of TEC routes and just can’t seem to find the one you just know is in there, somewhere. Or maybe you know the route, but want to see the big picture, delay-wise, for that Big City airport you’re going to today. Well, it’s time to make use of some of the big boys’ toys—for free!

You can do it two ways. The “deluxe route” is a graphics rich application called the Route Management Tool (formerly Coded Departure Routes) developed by Metron, Inc. to improve information exchange between the Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC), the Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC), and the airlines.

There’s also a quick-start second way into the sanctum sanctorum of the National Flight Data Center (which is the “official” data source for the National Airspace System), one that doesn’t involve downloading and configuring a major application and then reading a multi-megabyte User Guide. That would be “Web RMT”, a web-accessible, searchable, and current database with coded departure route, preferred route, and location identifier information, available from the same folks who are Here To Help Us! How do you get there, you ask? Go to Click under “Products”, and then ‘Route Management Tool’.

This site allows you to selectively query the ATCSCC CDM Operational Preferred Routes Database on any point of origin, destination airport, and/or route type. These include L (low altitude) and H (high altitude) preferred routes, LSD (low altitude single direction), HSD (high altitude single direction), SLD (special low altitude directional), SHD (special high altitude directional), and of course, TEC (tower enroute control).

EXAMPLE: If you enter ‘PHL’ for destination, and ‘TEC’ for Route Type, you get an HTML formatted table with 42 TEC routes into PHL; and these do match (with slight format differences) the TEC routes given for those Departure Control Areas in the AFD which have ‘Philadelphia’ as the destination airport. This database, which is kept current, uses the National Flight Data Center (again, the ‘official’ data source for the NAS) as their source. Let’s look at the top record, column by column:

# – the record number (1, of course)
Orig – the route’s origin airport: WRI (MC GUIRE AFB, WRIGHTSTOWN NJ) – You probably wouldn’t be departing WRI; this list is mostly in reverse alphabetic order.
DCNTR – the route’s departure center (NY)
Dest – the route’s destination airport (PHL)
ACNTR – the route’s arrival center, NY (actually, PHL’s TRACON is under ZNY & ZDC)
Type – specifies the route type (TEC)
Num – route identifier sequence number (# of routes between city pairs; here 1 of 2)
Area – the preferred route area description (blank)
Altitude – the preferred route altitude (4000 MSL)
Aircraft – the aircraft types that can use this route (here, props only)
Hours 1, 2, 3 – effective GMT times; hours during which the route can be flown (blank)
Dir – the route direction limitations description (here, none)
Route – the elements that make up the route (WRI V1 CYN V312 OOD PHL)

That’s not all, either. You can take a self-guided tour of the ATCSCC site; the door is always open. Among the other things you’ll find there are:

  • Advisories Database – real-time display of advisory information received from U.S. and Canadian facilities (also has advisories from the past 15 days)
  • Aviation Information System – operating status of larger airports, directly to your wireless device, pager, phone, PDA, or e-mail, real-time
  • Airline FSM Training Sign-up – training sign-up for Airlines, U.S. Government and academia personnel (It’s usually free.)
  • Airport Arrival Demand Chart (AADC) – airport arrival demand information for selected airports (real-time of course)
  • Central Altitude Reservation Function (CARF) – a link to CARF´s web site.
  • Collaborative Convective Forecast Product (CCFP) – the embodiment of collaborative decision-making in the weather arena, between Aviation Weather Center forecasters, airline meteorologists, and the Center Weather Service Unit.
  • Operational Information System – real-time airport delay information; includes Ground Delay, Ground Stop, Deicing, and general airport delay information.
  • Route Management Tool – national routes database (updated every 56-days)
  • Special Traffic Management Program (e-STMP) – arrival and departure reservations, via the internet

Neat, huh? This is just our taxpayer dollars, hard at work! Why not use it, and make flying just a little easier?