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HIGHLIGHTS ARCHIVE
10.30.07 Division Highlights

Contents
Best Paper in Track at 26th Digital Avionics Systems Conference: "Roles and Responsibilities of Surface Domain Controllers under Precision Taxiing," was presented at the 26th Digital Avionics Systems Conference. It won the Best Paper Award for the Avionics Design track. The paper identified issues in the current allocation of ground operator responsibilities. It introduced a surface automation tool that creates timed taxi routes for tactical control. Initial testing showed that tool created imbalances in controller workload. New areas of responsibilities were then designed to balance the workload while the surface tool was used for precision taxiing. The paper discusses the basis for redesigning the allocation of responsibilities, and the resulting impact in terms of workload, situation awareness, and communications. The paper was co-authored by Thomas Kozon, Debbi Ballinger and Dr. Victor Cheng.

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FAA Interested in Airspace Restriction Planner: Parimal Kopardekar and Banavar Sridhar met with Mike Gough and Midori Tanino. They represent the FAA's Traffic Flow Management program. Parimal Kopardekar gave a briefing and a demonstration of the Airspace Restriction Planner (ARP), which were well received. ARP is a decision support capability for Traffic Management Coordinators (TMCs). The purpose of ARP is to resolve sector congestion situations with minimum delays. ARP consists of three main functions. These include: traffic characterization, restriction planner, and restriction analyzer. A TMC can plan restrictions and assess their effectiveness prior to implementation using the ARP. These include: miles-in-trail, time based metering, tunneling, altitude capping, rerouting, departure delays, and approval requests for departures. The FAA is very interested in the ARP. The next step is to conduct a comparative analysis of effectiveness of historical and ARP planned restrictions. The comparison will also identify situations where the historical restrictions were not able to address the demand and capacity balance situations, whereas ARP would be able to address them. It would also highlight the delays experienced under historical and ARP planned restrictions. The FAA is interested in conducting a field test of ARP. The field test will focus on demonstrating how ARP generated restrictions would reduce delays, and create and impose just enough flow management restrictions while balancing sector demand and capacity. The FAA may use the ARP for quality assurance purposes to identify the effectiveness of past restrictions.

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Airportal NRA Kickoff Meeting: Modeling of Environmental Constraints in Surface Traffic Optimization: On October 18, an NRA kickoff meeting was held at NASA Ames Research Center. Metron Aviation, Inc., Georgia Institute of Technology, and George Mason University team members presented their proposed work, "Modeling Environmental Factors in Surface Traffic Optimization (MEFISTO)." The principal objective of the NRA is to develop techniques to ensure that all relevant environmental constraints are considered in the surface traffic optimization process. MEFISTO addresses the need for tools and methods to assess environmental constraints in the noise, emissions, and fuel-efficiency domains as part of the surface-planning process. It extends earlier work with the Departure Noise Avoidance Planner and the Center-TRACON Automation System to provide mitigation advisories, in fast- and real-time, that can be used by surface planners to reduce environmental impacts. A software interface between environmental models and the surface traffic scheduler will be developed. In addition, MEFISTO estimates benefits that could be achieved if gates, taxiways, and operational procedures were redesigned. The teams also discussed potential research collaborations across Airportal NRA subtopics.

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Airportal NRA Kickoff Meeting: Surface Optimization in the Presence of Uncertainties: On October 19, a joint NRA kick-off meeting was held at NASA Ames Research Center. Two research teams from San Jose State University (led by Dr. Wenbin Wei) and Georgia Institute of Technology (led by Dr. J-P Clarke) had their proposals accepted by the Airportal Project in the topic area, "Surface Optimization in the Presence of Uncertainties." The goal of this meeting was for each of the teams to present their research plans to the NASA sponsors as well as to another Airportal NRA team. The intent is to foster collaboration among the three groups. In addition to the presentations, there were discussions on areas where collaboration would be helpful, and how to ease the coordination and communication necessary to encourage the collaboration.

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Investigation of Concepts that Resolve Air Traffic Conflicts: A researcher presented an experiment plan for studying concepts that resolve air traffic conflicts. The experiment quantifies performance with respect to data access and traffic density. It uses an existing simulation, the Airspace Concept Evaluation System, which contains a concept, the Advanced Airspace Concept. This concept is responsible for safety of all aircraft located in a given airspace, and it has full access to their data. It will be modified by reducing the responsibility to one airplane and the data access. Only data for aircraft within a given distance of the one airplane will be available. Results will determine the minimum distance for given traffic densities for which performance is acceptable.

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Presented Augmented Reality Tower Tool Research for Air Traffic Control at Ames Aeronautics Technical Seminar: NASA and FAA are exploring concepts for Augmented Reality Tower Tools. The engineering models use head-tracked, head-worn, see-through display systems to mitigate the impact of visibility impairments (e.g., weather and buildings) on airport operations. The models display 3-D computer images of real-time air traffic data (e.g., aircraft location, identity, speed), and terrain, runways, hangars, and other obstructions rendered from the Tower controller's point of view. The Moffett Field Tower was the test site. A facial-expression recognition system developed by the MIT Media Labs may be used in future field studies to evaluate the models' effects on the controllers.

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Space Shuttle Landing and Rollout Training: The second Space Shuttle astronaut training session for 2007 was completed recently on the VMS. This periodic training helps shuttle crews to become familiar with vehicle handling during approach, landing, and rollout. Normal operations as well as failures were simulated. Prior to the training, an engineering study investigated braking procedures to be used on the new temporary runway at Edwards Air Force Base. Twenty-three pilots and 14 mission specialists completed 433 training and engineering runs over a two-week period.

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