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04.24.07 Division Highlights

Separation Assurance Technical Interchange Meeting: A technical interchange meeting focused on the safety analysis of automated separation assurance concepts was held on April 18, 2007 at Ames Research Center. Participants included NASA researchers in separation assurance, and the principal investigators from all four universities (Stanford, Purdue, UC Santa Cruz and Cal State Long Beach) who were awarded NRA contracts under the NGATS ATM: Airspace - Separation Assurance element. Presentations and discussions were centered on the question: "What experiments and analyses will help establish the safety of automated separation assurance given uncertainties and failures in a commercial air traffic operating environment?" Dr. Landry (Purdue) presented a conceptual framework for analysis of conditions that could degrade a system from a safe state to a safe, but undesirable state, and the associated analysis of control actions to transition the system back to a safe state thus preventing further degradation to an unrecoverable collision state. Dr. Erzberger (UCSC) reviewed operating concept options for automated separation assurance with emphasis on human operator (e.g., controller) responsibilities, and conditions under which the automation is responsible for loss of separation and the human operator is responsible for loss of separation. It was noted that a clear and unambiguous definition of human operator responsibilities in an automated system seems to bring out important technical questions that help guide the research.

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Traffic Flow Management Technical Interchange Meeting: A technical interchange meeting (TIM) was held on Thursday April 19, 2007 at the FAA Systems Command Center to discuss research needed to meet the Traffic Flow Management (TFM) challenges in the NextGen future air transportation system concept. The meeting was attended by representatives from NASA, FAA, JPDO, NEXTOR, Metron Aviation, Volpe Transportation System Center and MITRE. Dr. John Scardina (JPDO) gave a brief description of the concept of operations. Dr. Sridhar (NASA) presented the fundamental research in TFM modeling and optimization pursued by NASA and universities supported by the NASA Research Announcement (NRA). The NASA research plans helped the group to focus on several modeling and optimization issues in TFM. It was agreed that the concept of operations needs clarity. Further work is needed to define 4D trajectory operations, accuracy of Aircraft models for TFM and transition from current to future systems.

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Study of Centralized and De-Centralized Separation Assurance Proposed: A study was proposed and presented to the technical staff on an approach to assess the safety and robustness of two conflict detection and resolution concepts. One of the concepts utilizes a centralized method of gathering, updating, and utilizing information, while the other concept utilizes a decentralized method. The approach included investigating the concepts, choosing the experiment design variables and metrics, modeling the concepts, implementing the models in the Airspace Concepts Evaluation System (ACES), performing the simulation, and comparing the results. There are two advantages to implementing both concept models in ACES and using ACES to carry out the experiment; 1) both models can be assessed within a common simulation environment and 2) a single ACES simulation exposes each concept to a diverse and statistically significant set of thousands of conflicts.

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