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MODELING & SIMULATION MULTIMEDIA GALLERY
"Tailored Arrivals" Video Transcript

Tailored Arrivals is a Next Generation air-traffic control concept being supported by technology under development within NASA's Aviation Systems Division.

The goal of Tailored Arrivals is to allow aircraft to fly a continuous, gliding descent at very low engine power from cruise altitude to the runway, thereby minimizing fuel consumption, environmental emissions, and noise pollution.

The animation that you're seeing is based on flight data obtained during field trials of Tailored Arrival operations into San Francisco, conducted jointly between NASA, Boeing, the FAA, United Airlines, and the San Francisco Airport. The airplane you’re seeing is a Boeing triple seven, originating from Honolulu. Here you can see the aircraft’s flight path along with information as the flight progresses, such as airspeed, altitude, heading, fuel-burn, and emissions. Once the aircraft reaches lower altitudes, you’ll see a series of plumes originating from the ground indicating the decibel level detected by microphones placed along the arrival path.

Tailored Arrivals takes advantage of state-of-the-art avionics and air-traffic control services that allow pilots to receive a comprehensive arrival clearance over digital data-link. This clearance is tailored to the aircraft type, filed flight plan, and various airspace constraints. One the Tailored Arrival clearance has been up-linked to the flight deck, pilots load the clearance into the aircraft’s Flight Management System with a single button press. The Flight Management System then automatically guides and controls the aircraft towards landing along a fuel-optimal trajectory computed from the up-linked clearance.

NASA's work is focused on developing the predictive automation needed to tailor the clearance to accommodate busy traffic conditions. Studies indicate that continuous descents during these conditions could reduce fuel consumption by as much as 3,000 pounds per flight for large aircraft, with a corresponding reduction of carbon dioxide of up to 10,000 pounds per flight. In today’s heavy traffic operations, however, aircraft are often forced to fly highly inefficient arrival trajectories as controllers work to maximize throughput while keeping aircraft sufficiently separated from one another.

To help solve this problem, NASA is developing a tool for controllers called the En Route Descent Advisor (or EDA). EDA predicts separation conflicts and avoids them while still allowing aircraft to fly a fuel-optimal descent. In addition, EDA interfaces with scheduling automation developed by NASA that maximizes throughput without exceeding capacity limitations.

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Last Updated: October 13, 2016

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