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HIGHLIGHTS ARCHIVE
06.10.08
Division Highlights

Contents
NRA Subtopic Released: Information Management/Database System and Scenarios for Assessing Air Traffic Management and Aircraft Safety Concepts and Technologies: An NRA in support of the off-nominal scenario research effort was released. The solicitation seeks research and development of operational scenarios based on the current day air transportation system, all phases of flight and surface operations, and nominal and off-nominal conditions. The awardee would also develop a database of ATM and aircraft safety scenarios to assess and guide the development of advanced concept and technology solutions undergoing research in NASA Aeronautics. The NRA closes July 23.

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Successful Critical Design Review of CNS-Related Uncertainties Experiment in ACES: The Performance-Based Services group completed the critical design review for their first ACES-based simulation study. This experiment will examine the general effects of Communication delays and Navigation and Surveillance uncertainty on the performance of the Automated Airspace Concept (AAC) conflict detection and resolution algorithms in the ACES simulation environment. This experiment will be run with the CNS version of ACES Build-4. The large time penalties currently incurred by running the CNS modules are being mitigated by integrating and tuning the test variables within the ACES and AAC code itself. This will allow the CNS modules to be disabled for the data runs, resulting in large run-time savings. (Initial testing has shown a 75% reduction in run time using a reduced data set when the CNS modules are disabled.) While the current experiment does not require ACES with CNS, this method will allow follow-on studies to simply enable any desired modules without being forced to run in a completely different version of the code.

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NASA-developed Software to Help FAA with ATM Modernization: NASA Ames developed and implemented the ability to use a new FAA data format in the CTAS Traffic Management Advisor running at the Dallas-Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center. Controllers at Dallas-Fort Worth use a unique NASA research version of the Traffic Management Advisor for scheduling aircraft arriving at the airport. Controllers at other sites around the country use an FAA operational version. The Dallas-Fort Worth Traffic Management Advisor needed to be upgraded to allow for the nationwide deployment of the FAA new data format. This format will be used by more modern computer systems that will replace the current FAA En Route Host computers. NASA developed the new software and successfully installed it with no interruption of metering operations at Dallas-Fort Worth.

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Rotorcraft Aircrew-Systems Concepts Airborne Laboratory Safety Monitor Evaluation on the VMS: New safety monitor concepts and algorithms for the Army/NASA variable stability JUH-60 helicopter known as Rotorcraft Aircrew-Systems Concepts Airborne Laboratory (Rotorcraft Aircrew-Systems Concepts Airborne Laboratory) were evaluated on the VMS. This was the second in a series of VMS simulation evaluations to verify and validate the monitor operation prior to flight test in Rotorcraft Aircrew-Systems Concepts Airborne Laboratory. The Rotorcraft Aircrew-Systems Concepts Airborne Laboratory is a full-authority, fly-by-wire, in-flight simulator that retains the Blackhawk mechanical controls as a backup. The research flight control system (RFCS) includes a set of monitors that verify the integrity of the system during engaged operation. When faults are detected, the RFCS is disengaged and control reverts to the UH-60 mechanical controls. Currently, Rotorcraft Aircrew-Systems Concepts Airborne Laboratory operation with the RFCS engaged is limited to altitudes above 25 feet. The new and improved safety monitors will reduce the transient response to failures, thereby allowing Rotorcraft Aircrew-Systems Concepts Airborne Laboratory to operate with the RFCS engaged to touchdown with an acceptable level of flight safety risk. The research pilot flew the RFCS via a desktop set of inceptors in the lab. The Rotorcraft Aircrew-Systems Concepts Airborne Laboratory RFCS model commanded the helicopter model and also back-drove the controls in the cockpit. The safety pilot flew the standard UH60 helicopter model with motion on the VMS. A major technical challenge in the configuration of the simulation was the set up of the record/playback functions in the rotorcraft model software so that pilot control inputs could be recorded during ADS-33 type tasks, played back through the Rotorcraft Aircrew-Systems Concepts Airborne Laboratory RFCS and GenHel rotorcraft model code such that the aircraft response exactly matched that of the original run. In this simulation, an improved version of the command force monitor was implemented and refined. A new monitor concept, the Command Validation Algorithm (CVA) was also integrated and tested. The CVA predicted the aircraft state (altitude, and pitch and roll attitudes) in the near future based on aircraft state and control system parameters and triggered a fault if the predicted state (pitch and roll, for example) exceeded a predetermined envelope. Several Army and industry pilots evaluated the new safety monitors using standard handling qualities evaluation maneuvers. The performance of the systems was also evaluated using a large array of test inputs of varying rates and magnitudes that were injected to simulate different failures. Nuisance faults were also investigated. Further VMS simulations are expected to test the systems before flight.

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Space Shuttle Landing and Rollout Training: The first Space Shuttle astronaut training session for 2008 was completed recently on the VMS. This periodic training familiarizes shuttle crews with vehicle handling during approach, landing, and rollout under normal operating conditions as well as off-nominal and failure conditions. Over a two-week period, 22 pilots and 9 mission specialists completed 348 training runs. Crews for upcoming STS-119, STS-124, STS-125, and STS-126 missions were included in the training. This was the first training session that used the new state-of-the-art image generator in the VMS that provided an order-of-magnitude improvement in the resolution and detail of the computer generated outside visual scene. To make use of the improved visual fidelity, the visual databases of all the Space Shuttle landing sites were rebuilt. The shuttle training simulation uses 24 visual databases representing potential landing sites used for regular and emergency landings. There are strict requirements on the accuracy of the location and dimensions of the runways and the visual landing aids. Integration of satellite imagery of the areas surrounding the landing sites ensures that the visual scenes are geographically accurate and familiar to the astronauts. Each landing site must be accurate in both day and night visual conditions with correct representation of the color and brightness of the specialized runway lighting and landing aids used for shuttle landings. Based on shuttle pilot comments, the new visuals significantly improved the realism of the simulation and the effectiveness of the training.

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Tailored Arrivals Initiative Benefits Air New Zealand and the Environment: A June 9th press release states "A ground-breaking initiative at San Francisco Airport to increase the efficiency of air traffic is resulting in significant fuel and emission savings for Air New Zealand. Air New Zealand's General Manager Airline Operations and Chief Pilot Captain David Morgan, says that since the airline began participating in the operation in January, it has saved an estimated 22,000 kilograms of fuel, and 69,410 kilograms of CO2 emissions. Air New Zealand was the first international carrier invited to join the San Francisco Oceanic Tailored Arrivals Trial, which is a joint venture between Boeing, NASA, the FAA and SFO Airport." These operations are a follow-on to a NASA Ames research effort conducted at SFO late last year.

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