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Division Highlights

Integration Technical Interchange Between Ames and Langley: Richard Barhydt, Principal Scientist of the Airspace Systems Program (ASP), led a workgroup meeting with the participation of Robert Windhorst (AFM) and Jorge Bardina (TI) from Ames Research Center and William Kimmel, Daniel Williams, Kurt Neitzke and Jeremy Smith from Langley Research Center. This meeting was held from November 18-20, 2008 and hosted by the Aviation Systems Division at Ames Research Center. Researchers planned the SLDAST milestones in Common Scenarios, Metrics and Assumptions, the Integrated Design Studies and the System-level Design Studies and coordinated the activities to be led at both centers. Breakout sessions focused on defining the role of liaisons and designing the system-wide assessment experiment and included the participation of invited Ames researchers and Parimal Kopardekar, Airspace Project Principal Investigator.

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Quantifying Trajectory Uncertainty Estimation Models using Trajectory Prediction Accuracy Analysis Techniques: Researchers from L-3 Communications presented their work on creating uncertainty estimation models for trajectory predictors. This discussion was held at NASA Ames Research Center. Techniques were identified to identify and quantify key modeling parameters used for real-time trajectory uncertainty estimation models. The discussion started with a description of a "toolbox" of trajectory accuracy metrics and ended with an example using CTAS climb predictions. The methods presented will be applied to build uncertainty models for the Continuous Descent Arrival (CDA) trajectories using field test data.

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Louisville Airport Site Visit in Support of Safe and Efficient Surface Operations: A site visit was conducted at the Louisville International Airport (SDF) from November 3-5, 2008. Daytime and nighttime observations of surface operations were conducted in both the TRACON and Control Tower to view overall airport operations, controllers' and managers' tactical and strategic traffic management, night operations when the airport is dominated by a cargo carrier (United Parcel Service [UPS]), and the Tower use of the ASDE-X surface surveillance system. The UPS Ramp Control Center and Global Operations Center facilities utilize the NASA-developed Surface Management System (SMS) in their daily operations, for managing aircraft scheduling, crew deployment, and maintenance. SMS recording and playback features are also used to assist in forecasting future operations.

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Surface Operations Research at the German Aerospace Center: An Aviation Systems Division (code AF) researcher, Dr. Kenneth Kuhn, recently completed a two-month detail assignment to the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Braunschweig, Germany. The detail was initiated after discussions with a visiting DLR researcher to Ames, regarding collaborations to investigate the optimization of airport surface operations. At DLR, Dr. Kuhn worked with a team investigating and developing algorithms to schedule tasks for airport surface service vehicles, in support of the Car Management on Aprons (CARMA) project at the DLR. Kenneth and the DLR researchers worked with air traffic controllers and airport service provider staff at Hamburg Airport to gain an understanding of their operations. After two months, four vehicle scheduling algorithms were coded in C++. The scheduling algorithms that were developed will likely be easy to adapt to similar problems such as aircraft arrival and departure scheduling. One algorithm models current operations at Hamburg Airport. Another uses a greedy approach to scheduling, always assigning the vehicle closest to an aircraft to service the aircraft. A third algorithm uses a specially modified branch-and-bound algorithm on a modified vehicle routing mixed integer linear program. This algorithm is particularly promising and was able to optimally solve problems involving scheduling six service vehicles servicing seventeen aircraft in about two to three seconds. This is remarkable since there are over 10^13 ways to assign aircraft to vehicles and as many as 10^14 ways to sequence tasks for vehicles after aircraft assignment. The last algorithm modified a genetic algorithm designed for arrival aircraft scheduling to solve vehicle routing problems. The four algorithms are currently being tested by the DLR. Dr. Kuhn and DLR researcher Steffen Loth will be submitting a paper to the 2009 ATM R&D Conference that documents their work. In addition to the service vehicle scheduling project, Dr. Kuhn had the opportunity for numerous formal and informal discussions with the DLR researchers, several of whom indicated that they would like to continue the exchange of personnel and work at NASA in the near future.

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NASA Collaborating with FAA, Mitre, Mosaic ATM and United Parcel Service to Field Test en-Route Merging and Spacing Tool: NASA, FAA, Mitre, Mosaic ATM and United Parcel Service (UPS) demonstrated an initial concept for en-route merging and spacing. A modified version of UPS's Surface Management System (SMS), developed by Mosaic ATM, calculated relative cruise speed advisories based upon predicted times of arrival to several en-route merge fixes generated by NASA's Center-TRACON Automation System (CTAS). Dispatchers at the UPS Global Operations Center in Louisville, Kentucky issued speed advisories to establish an arrival sequence for UPS flights to Louisville's Standiford International Airport. These UPS aircraft flew from the western United States to Louisville for their nightly package sort on Tuesday November 18 through Thursday November 20. Additional tests, involving flight deck merging and spacing are planned for Spring 2009.

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First Successful Smart Direct-To Pilot Request Issued under Boeing/NASA/Southwest Airlines en-Route Fuel Savings Project: The first successful smart direct route pilot request was generated by Boeing/NASA trajectory-based automation, datalinked to a Southwest Airlines cockpit via the Airline Operations Center, requested by the pilot, and approved by a Fort Worth Center controller on Monday November 17th. Operational trials to evaluate the feasibility of a Boeing concept to provide smart direct route requests that are pre-analyzed for flying time savings and traffic conflict status are ongoing in the Fort Worth Center airspace. The joint Boeing/NASA/Southwest Airlines trial is expected to continue over the next few weeks; more detailed results will follow in a future highlight.

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TSAFE Tactical Conflict Detection and Resolution: Archived tracking data for 102 actual operational error cases are being used for development and testing of a tactical conflict resolution capability in TSAFE. When a resolution maneuver is issued by TSAFE, a maneuver simulator takes control of the flight to simulate the tactical resolution maneuver. When both vertical and horizontal maneuvers are allowed and a 10 second tactical resolution delay is modeled, all but one of the 102 cases were successfully resolved in simulation. The one case that was not resolved involved a holding pattern and was resolved by activating an optional feature in TSAFE for detection and modeling of unplanned turns. When a 20 second delay is modeled all but five of the operational error cases are resolved. TSAFE is currently being integrated with strategic detection and resolution automation, and the integrated system will be tested in current and future air traffic scenarios.

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Last Updated: November 7, 2018

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