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FutureFlight Central
+ Overview
+ Applications
+ Air Traffic Generator
+ Business Guide
+ Projects
+ Naming of FFC
+ Multimedia Gallery


What is FutureFlight Central?

NASA FutureFlight Central is a national Air Traffic Control/Air Traffic Management (ATC/ATM) simulation facility dedicated to solving the present and emerging capacity problems of the nation's airports. The two-story facility offers a 360-degree full-scale, real-time simulation of an airport, where controllers, pilots and airport personnel participate to optimize expansion plans, operating procedures, and evaluate new technologies. The facility has established a precedent for enabling stakeholders to achieve consensus through a common vision of the future.

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Visual Airport Model

We provide a detailed and highly realistic 3-D airport database model displayed on twelve projection screens to provide a 360-degree out-the-window view of the airport. The 3-D airport database is built up from the following:
  • Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED)
  • Airport AutoCAD (DXF) files
  • High-resolution aerial survey photography
  • Close-up digital photography
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Multiple Views

The database supports views of the airport from any location, allowing the simulation and playback recordings to show the views from the ATC tower, ramp tower, pilot and ground vehicle operator.

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Radar Displays

Interactive displays support all air and ground positions controlling traffic within a terminal air space.
  • ASDE-3
  • ASDE-X
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Real-time Traffic Simulation

FutureFlight Central air traffic scenarios encompass the terminal air space and surface of the airfield. Up to twelve controller positions, eight ramp tower positions and thirteen pseudo-pilot positions are networked in real-time. Adacel Inc. provides the simulation software.

Aircraft Library
The simulator's aircraft model database currently contains over 100 3-D aircraft models and ground vehicle models. The library collection includes detailed liveries of airlines represented at the airport under study. FutureFlight Central continuously updates this collection based on customer needs.

Performance Modeling & Control
Aircraft and ground vehicles are controlled by pseudo-pilots. Pseudo- pilots use interactive displays to control many aspects of aircraft movement. Examples of modeled parameters include:
  • Push back and Engine startup time *
  • Taxi route and Taxi speed *
  • Aircraft lights *
  • Ground acceleration/deceleration
  • Takeoff speed and Climb speed
  • Aircraft stall speed (Dirty/Clean)
  • Rate of turn/climb/descent *
  • Fade from radar
  • Flight plan True Air Speed (TAS)
  • Descent speed *
  • Terminal area speed *
  • Intermediate approach speed *
  • Final approach speed *
  • Landing speed *
  • Landing distance *
  • Landing options: visual, ILS, go-around, missed approach *
*Pseudo-pilot controllable in real-time

Built-in Voice Communications System

The voice communication system can be configured to support all radio frequencies operating at an airport control tower. Controllers, ramp operators and pseudo-pilots participating in the simulation are each equipped with a communication touch screen interface and headset.

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Data Recording

During a simulation run, FutureFlight Central can collect measurements of surface performance for ground vehicles and aircraft, controller/pilot communication, and audio/video observational data. We can capture the following:
  • Replay of an entire simulation run
  • Summary statistics such as taxi time, departure rate, runway occupancy time, non-movement area time
  • Digital audio recordings of pilot/controller radio transmissions for voice communication analysis
  • Audio recordings of non-transmitted controller-to-controller coordination within the tower cab
  • Video recordings of controller movements using cameras installed throughout the tower cab
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Multimedia Presentation Capabilities

FutureFlight Central contains facilities for creating broadcast quality presentation materials. We can prepare for you a professional presentation of simulation results including narrated out-the-window and in-tower video, including audio recordings, and graphical presentation of data.

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Integrated Simulation Capability

Through Virtual Airspace Simulation Technologies (VAST), FutureFlight Central is integrated with the Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS) and the Crew-Vehicle Systems Research Facility (CVSRF) to provide simultaneous cockpit and air traffic control perspectives. This unique capability enables systems-level analyses of concepts across multiple domains and creates the building blocks for simulating more of the operations encompassed within the national airspace system.

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Image of FutureFlight Central tower cab
FutureFlight Central tower cab



Image describing Visual Database Development that uses 3-D models of the aircraft and ground vehicles; high-resolution aerial survey imagery and close-up digital photography for realistic texture mapping; AutoCAD drawings of runways, taxiways and airport terminal structures; and digital satellite data for high-fidelity terrain models
Visual database development



Image of the Pseudo-pilot room
Pseudo-pilot room



Image of Boeing MD-11 as modeled in FutureFlight Central
MD-11 as modeled in FutureFlight Central



Photo of quad-split video recording
Quad-split video recording



Image of In-tower camera view of controller managing virtual DFW traffic
Controller managing virtual DFW traffic

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Last Updated: September 13, 2017

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