What is Flow Control?

August, 22, 2021 by

The purpose of this post is to outline the reasoning why an expert ATC controller would include flow control in the ATIS remarks.

Flow control is a traffic flow management technique used in order to regulate the rate at which aircraft enter congested resources such as airport airspace to a level no greater than the resource can accept. It can be added in the ATIS remarks for any period of time at any time.

Aircraft will be delayed at their departure airport in order to manage demand and capacity at their arrival airport, if the airports’ demand exceeds capacity for a sustained period. Flights will be delayed primarily at the gate, which in turn regulates their arrival time at the impacted airport.

Controllers will primarily use reminders in-app for each aircraft to keep track of the specific aircraft’s delay dependent on when they spawn at the gate.

Flow control is not to be to be confused for a gate hold, as a gate hold is not known as a traffic flow management technique because you are simply holding all traffic at the gate and not allowing any aircraft to push back.

An example of when flow control could be used is during a flash flight, to mitigate the bottlenecks that type of traffic would create at the destination airport.

As a pilot, keep in mind the following, which applies to Infinite Flight:

FAR 91.103 – Preflght action
Each pilot in command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight. This information must include–
(a) For a flight under IFR or a flight not in the vicinity of an airport, weather reports and forecasts, fuel requirements, alternatives available if the planned flight cannot be completed, and any known traffic delays of which the pilot in command has been advised by ATC;

So when you hear flow control in ATIS, expect delays and be patient.

Kyle Boas is the Founder of the IFATC Education Group. He is an IFATC Supervisor and Infinite Flight Appeals team member. — More