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Metron Aviation completes final briefing for Traffic Flow Management (TFM) weather translation NASA Research Announcement (NRA): Dr. Jimmy Krozel presented a final briefing for an NRA effort to investigate non-convective impacts on TFM. Historically, most research in this area focuses on convective weather since it is a common and significant weather constraint on the National Airspace System. To complement the TFM impact models developed for convective weather, this effort investigated the impacts due to non-convective events. In this presentation, Metron gave an overview of their effort and highlighted their more recent work in quantifying the impacts of turbulence and in-flight icing hazards to TFM.

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Initial Simulation Completed for Terminal Area Paired Procedures Research (TAPPR): The first in a series of experiments for the Terminal Area Paired Procedures Research (TAPPR) project was completed in October 2009 at the Radar ATC Laboratory in the Crew Vehicle Systems Research Facility. The TAPPR concept focuses on the delivery of aircraft pairs, one plane 5-25 seconds in trail of the other, to a coupling point 12 nautical miles from the runway threshold. This concept allows paired landings to closely spaced parallel runways in IFR conditions — furthering the NextGen goal of increasing the capacity of airports in all weather conditions. The simulation was conducted in the airspace surrounding the San Francisco airport because of the airport's existing 750-foot parallel arrival runways and its proximity to other major airports which adds complexity to the TRACON airspace. To simulate advanced TRACON automation necessary to support this concept, TAPPR leveraged the Airborne Spacing for Terminal Arrival Routes flight deck merging and spacing software developed at Langley and two separate pair-scheduling algorithms developed at Ames. The focus of this TAPPR human-in-the-loop experiment was to investigate the controller's ability to find and deliver pairs of aircraft to the terminal area, obtain controller feedback on the operational procedures and the human interface to the automation, and to identify the correct mix of human control and automated guidance. In one condition the controllers determined and managed pairs manually, and in three other conditions, increasing levels of ground-based and cockpit automation were provided. Preliminary results indicate the automation that offered several possible pairings when a leader aircraft was selected by the controller was the least preferred automation mix. The most preferred automation mix is when controllers manually determined the pairs with the support of flight deck automation and a controller decision support tool.

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Generic Airspace Phase 3 Simulation: Dr. Richard Mogford (Code TH) and the Generic Airspace Team (GAT) tested a fictitious ATC “Center” composed of five generic sectors equipped with advanced NextGen automation tools including data link and long-term conflict detection/resolution. This was the third Generic Airspace simulation run in the Radar ATC Laboratory in the Crew Vehicle Systems Research Facility (CVSRF). The primary goal of the project is to identify tools and methods that can simplify airspace for controllers. This simplification may shorten the period of time required to qualify the controller, or may also enable a controller to take over an unfamiliar airspace more readily. For this simulation, several selected sectors from Oakland Center (ZOA) and Salt Lake Center (ZLC) were combined to form a fictitious Center at the ZOA-ZLC boundary named the “West High Center” (or ZHW). Researchers evaluated the Generic Airspace concept by rotating controllers through the five ZHW sectors. Each controller participant (experienced Center controllers) in the experiment was familiar with one or two of the sectors in ZOA and ZLC, but not the others, and each controller knew one or more sectors the others did not know. This approach tested the hypothesis that generic sectors can be adequately managed by controllers not previously familiar with them. Researchers plan to compare data collected from the “familiar” sectors with those collected from the “unfamiliar” sectors, looking for differences in workload, safety, acceptability, and other measures. The Controller Information Tool (CIT), an auxiliary display for the en route flight segments developed in previous experiments, was enlarged to a 30” display for more clarity. This display offered generic information (i.e. frequencies, jet routes, etc.) to controllers unfamiliar with the selected airspace. Enhanced data link procedure capabilities were also incorporated into the simulation for increased automation. Experiment data analysis is underway and the next simulation in this project is scheduled for July 2010.

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NASA Researcher Presents Current Airport Surface Research to the FAA Transportation Review Board: Ms. Sandy Lozito was an invited speaker for the Transportation Review Board in Washington, DC during the week of January 10th. The session was attended by 70-80 representatives from government, industry, and academia Ms. Lozito participated on a panel entitled “The Right Time: Air Traffic Management Research in Support of NextGen.” Dr. Eugene Gilbo of the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center was the chair of the panel. The title of Ms. Lozito's talk was “NASA's Surface Management Research.” The other panelists were Midori Tanino of the FAA, Mark Weber with MIT-Lincoln Lab, Nagesh Nayak of University of South Florida, and Michael Ball of University of Maryland. Topics by the panel members included weather effects in the National Airspace System, research on the flight object, and delay propagation measurement techniques. Topics during the discussion section included how to best obtain airline data, how to determine the best metrics for delay and optimization, and the process of sharing various methodologies in aeronautics research. Based upon the sharing of our presentations, Mark Weber will be speaking with Ames' Associate Principal Investigator for Safe and Efficient Surface Operations, Dr. Yoon Jung, about potential collaboration between his surface weather tools and NASA's surface optimization algorithms.

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Research Version of FAA's Traffic Management Advisor Software now Available to NASA: NASA took delivery of a research version of the most recent FAA Traffic Management Advisor (TMA) software in a key milestone for the Precision Departure Release Capability (PDRC) research activity. PDRC research objectives are to improve departure schedule performance by integrating surface tools such as the Surface Management System with departure management tools such as TMA. PDRC is a product of the NASA/FAA Integrated Arrival/Departure/Surface Research Transition Team and will be developed and evaluated over the next two years at NASA's North Texas Testbed. The FAA Time Based Flow Management Program Office is collaborating in this effort and made the latest TMA source code available to NASA. Working under a NASA contract, Computer Sciences Corporation has modified the FAA TMA software to be compatible with NASA's research environment, tested on representative NASA hardware and delivered the source code via NASA's ClearCase configuration management system. This new research version of the FAA TMA system will be used to develop and evaluate PDRC functionality and will also be available to support other NASA research activities.

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NASA Researchers Initiate Collaboration with Southern California Air Traffic Control Facilities in Support of Planned Human-in-the-Loop Simulations: On January 12 and 13, 2010, NASA researchers supporting the Super-Density Research Focus Area visited Southern California TRACON (SCT) and Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZLA) to prepare for NASA's simulations planned for FY10. Their objective was to become familiar with current Southern California air traffic operations, procedures and tools and to gain feedback for evaluating new concepts to manage aircraft in and around the TRACON. The NASA team briefed FAA facility management, traffic management specialists and air traffic controllers at both facilities and gained valuable feedback to improve the fidelity of the planned simulations. Researchers improved their understanding of current air traffic management issues in the Southern California terminal airspace, the transition of air traffic flow from ZLA into SCT, metering operations using the FAA's Traffic Management Advisor, the use of Optimal Profile Descents and arrival management to Los Angeles International Airport. Both air traffic facilities indicated NASA's research is on the right track and that they would be very interested in future participation.

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