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Surface tracking

Link to eLearning

1       Introduction 

Surface tracking 

In this topic, you learn how to identify aircraft currently on the ground at a selected airport to assess congestion. 

We estimate that this will take 3 minutes to complete.

2       Detailed explanation 

Assess airport congestion and monitor landed aircraft

Surface tracking is an optional feature and may not be deployed by all users.


Use N-Tracking surface tracking functionality to monitor the level of congestion at most airports or to verify if a particular flight is at its arrival gate.

Colors you assign to the fleet, tracked and "other" aircraft help you visualize which airlines are using an airport at any given time. Flights remain on the surface map for 15 minutes after their last position report, making it easier for Ground Control/Dispatch to identify which gate the plane is occupying.

You can also display tail registration numbers to better analyze the movement of planes on runways and around the gates.

In this topic, you learn how to open a surface map in two different ways: from the Flight Details pane for a specific flight or from the Airport tab (for a specific airport). Then, you learn how to view city pair and other flight information for the aircraft depicted on the surface map.

For this first example, access an airport surface map from within the Flight Details pane for a specific flight.

In a later example, you'll learn how to use the map with the same techniques, but accessing that map from the Airport tab.  

Interaction 1

Depending on your preferences, you may work with your Flight List minimized (as shown in this example) or not.

Restore the Flight List to its standard view. 

Interaction 1 Click the Restore button.

Based on the colors used in the Flight List, tracked aircraft display in blue and "other" aircraft display in green.

These same colors are used to distinguish aircraft on the surface map.

Interaction 1

Delta flight DAL1001 is enroute for the Atlanta airport  (KATL).

Let's see how congested the airport is.

Interaction 1 Click the DAL1001 aircraft icon.

Click the respective Surface Map icon to view surface maps for either the departure or the arrival airport from the Flight Details pane.

For this example, use the arrival airport, KATL (Atlanta). 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Surface Map icon.

While the Surface Map icon causes the surface map for the selected airport to display, you can click either of the city pair codes to navigate to the Airport tab for that airport. 

For more details on the information available on the Airport tab, consult the topic, Search for airports.

In this example, you no longer see the underlying N-Tracking map, but it remains active -- in exactly the same state it was when this new browser window containing the surface map opened.

The new browser window may open less than full screen, on top of the main N-Tracking window. In that case, simply maximize the new browser window while you work with the surface map. 

In your operational environment, you do not lose connection with the main N-Tracking map.  

On the surface maps, the zoom controls appear in the upper left corner.

By default, when you first access a map, you are at maximum zoom. You can zoom in for further detail, but you cannot zoom out at this point.

To pan (either within the boundaries of the airport or to see features outside of the airport boundaries), click on the map, and drag to the desired position. 

Interaction 1

Use the Zoom controls in the upper right of the window to zoom in or out on the map. 

Interaction 1 Click the Zoom in (+) button.

With the map positioned around the appropriate terminal, zoom in far enough to see the gate labels.  

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Zoom in (+) button.

When you zoom in, you can see individual aircraft locations on the ground more clearly. With gate labels displaying, you can see relative surface traffic around all gates and which aircraft is at which gate.  

Click + as many times as needed to achieve the focus you need.

Click - to zoom out again, if you go too far. 

All the depicted aircraft are green. From the colors used on the Flight List, you know these are flights that are not being tracked; they belong to the "other" flight category. 

Interaction 1

For this example, click the icon of the aircraft close to gate D12. 

Interaction 1 Click the aircraft icon.

The aircraft label displays the aircraft registration number, flight number and city pair. 

Registration numbers continue to display until you deactivate them by clicking the aircraft icon again or until 15 minutes after the plane's last position report.

You can display registration numbers for all aircraft, regardless of whether or not they are part of your fleet. 

Interaction 1

Click the aircraft icon for the aircraft moving away from Concourse C. 

Interaction 1 Click the aircraft icon.

In this example, the city pair no longer displays.

When the aircraft stops sending position messages after landing, city pair information is no longer available. 

Interaction 1

Click the icon of the aircraft between gate C21 and C19. 

Interaction 1 Click the aircraft icon.

To center the map, returning it to its original position and zoom level, click the Center map button in the upper right corner of the map. 

Interaction 1

Close the surface map browser window. 

Interaction 1 Click the Close button.

Next, explore the second method for accessing the surface map -- from the Airport tab. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Airport tab.

If the airport you want to investigate is in your list of airports, click its entry.

Otherwise, enter the IATA code in the Search Airport field. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the KATL - Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport list item.

Access the surface map through the MAP tab. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the MAP tab.

From this point, surface tracking works exactly as you just learned.

Click the Map tab (beside the Airport tab) to display the main N-Tracking map again. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Map tab.

You have learned how to access surface tracking information in two ways:

        by launching a surface map for an airport identified on the Flight Details pane of a specific flight

        by opening the map from the N-Tracking Airport tab.

You can use this information to assess traffic at airport gates and to better advise flight crew.  


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