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"Future ATM Concepts Evaluation Tool (FACET)" Video Transcript

If you could see the future, would you change how you get there? During our daily commute, we rely on radio traffic reports, and other tools to figure out how to avoid traffic jams and congestion that might make us late for work. Imagine if you had a high tech tool that could clearly show you how your reroute decisions would impact not only your trip, but how your choices might affect everyone else on the road.

Now imagine you are an air traffic flow manager. With about 60,000 flights in the air over America during a given day, your decisions ripple through the lives of thousands. How can you get a clearer picture of the impact your decisions have across the national airspace?

Enter the Future Air Traffic Management Concepts and Evaluation Tool, or FACET. FACET was initially developed by a team at NASA Ames Research Center as a flexible concepts simulation tool. Through a partnership with NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration is developing and using the software for concepts visualization and analysis, and as a real-time operations planning tool.

(Lisa Lockyer, Manager, Innovative Partnerships Program, NASA Ames Research Center)
“This partnership will really affect every single person that travels the airspace, it will make travel safer, more cost effective, and it's a partnership that allows NASA to really help make what we do relevant to every single person every day when they travel.”

FACET uses aircraft performance data, flight plans and positions from the FAA's own Enhanced Traffic Management System, and weather data from NOAA, to predict and model trajectories for the climb, cruise and descent phases of flight for each type of aircraft. The tool gives traffic flow managers a clearer picture of how delays and reroutes could affect your next flight and up to 15,000 additional aircraft at the national airspace operations level; all on a single desktop computer.

(Midori Tanino, Manager, NextGen Traffic Flow Management, FAA)
“Reroutes become necessary and because of that we do want to know before we give them a reroute advisory and stuff like that. We would like to model what type of things you can expect. What's the impact? Is there any other way of doing things better?”

The software is proving to be a useful tool towards the FAA's mission of providing the safest, most-effective aerospace system in the world.

(Midori Tanino) “It is most important that passengers and aircraft are moving around safely. That is definitely our number one goal. But, the future is coming and there are a lot of changes, especially, technology changes are amazing. So someone like NASA, who can keep a little bit of distance between today and put a little more emphasis into the future, so teaming up with those two organizations is absolutely necessary for our success.”

In addition to the partnership with FAA, NASA commercially licensed the software to Flight Explorer, where it has been incorporated into what is now part of Sabre Airline Solution's portfolio of airline products. Sabre's Flight Explorer software is used by airlines worldwide to save fuel costs by determining the most effective routes around weather events and other airspace constraints.

The success of the commercial license led to FACET winning NASA's 2006 Software of the Year award, which recognized the technology for its impact on NASA's mission, quality, usability, and its significance to science and technology. But the awards mean little compared to the impact the software will have on travelers.

(Lisa Lockyer) “I think the biggest impact of this partnership will hopefully be safety. Cost savings is important, efficiency of air travel is important. We all want to get there on time, but really if we can make a difference in safety I think that will be the biggest, lasting and important impact.”

(End of transcript.)

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Last Updated: October 13, 2016

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