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UAS/NAS Simulation in the Crew Vehicle Systems Research Facility (CVSRF): A real-time distributed simulation of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) operating in the National Airspace System (NAS) was conducted in the Air Traffic Control simulator at the CVSRF. The simulation was the first phase in the Navy's Live-Virtual-Constructive Distributed Environment (LVC-DE) project investigating methods for integrating the Navy's Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) aircraft into the NAS. This simulation connected five separate facilities across the nation into one distributed airborne simulation. Participants included CVSRF ATC TRACON controllers and pseudo pilots (generating civil air traffic scenarios), a Navy RQ-4N BAMS UAS simulator in Bethpage, NY, “conflict” military aircraft targets from the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD, and data collection at SIMAF facility at Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, OH. NASA's portion of the simulation was conducted entirely at the unclassified security level, but was integrated real-time with classified facilities via a “cross domain solution” guard system provided by the fifth participant, the Army's Redstone Test Center in Huntsville, AL. The ATC simulator at the CVSRF simulated the Los Angeles TRACON airspace with representative civil traffic operating in and out of LAX airport as well as overflights. Ames SimLabs developed the traffic scenarios and TRACON displays and was the lead facility for integrating the distributed simulation, providing software expertise and building facility “toolboxes” for network connectivity. The simulation demonstrated the feasibility of the distributed simulation approach and investigated different military/civil ATC strategies for communicating intent for the BAMS aircraft. During the final week of the study, several two-hour data runs were completed successfully with no unplanned downtime due to equipment or software issues. Controller and pilot displays as well as voice communications were recorded and will be analyzed by the USAF. During the final days of the simulation the B747-400 simulator at the CVSRF was integrated into the LVC-DE simulation network and flown in the scenario. Distributed simulation traffic was properly displayed on the B747 Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) display, and the B747 track data was properly displayed on the BAMS collision avoidance and TRACON displays. The ability to integrate and fly a TCAS-equipped commercial airline flight simulator in the distributed simulation was a significant enhancement to an already valuable UAS/NAS simulation capability at NASA Ames Research Center. Planning is underway for the next phase of the LVC-DE project with further simulations expected in 2010.

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Simulation of Market-based System for Prioritizing Flights Shows Promise Among Airline Dispatchers: From January 26-28, an experiment was conducted to evaluate a system for prioritizing flights traveling through congested airspace. The system, named equitable Credit-based User Preference System (e-CUPS), allows airline dispatchers to specify their high priority flights by assigning them credits, which are allocated to dispatchers according to their number of flights. The system gives flights with the most credits their requested departure times and routes. Flights with fewer credits may be delayed or re-routed to alleviate congestion. To evaluate the system's feasibility and benefits, five airline dispatchers from American Airlines, AirTran Airways, Continental Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines used the system to manage a set flights through several simulated air traffic scenarios. A recently retired air traffic manager set constraints on airspace capacities. Data and post-experiment surveys indicated that dispatchers successfully distributed delays among their flights based on their priorities. Their priorities mainly consisted of maintaining schedule integrity, minimizing fuel consumption, and preserving flight connectivity. To make future experiments more realistic, participants suggested constraining airport arrival and departure rates and more realistically simulating weather, along with other enhancements. The next experiment is planned for the fall of 2010.

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Metron Aviation Presents Airspace Class Research: Researchers from Metron Aviation briefed on airspace class scheduling research. A number of methods for analyzing traffic demand equipage and weighing the cost/benefit of using various airspace classes (e.g., flow corridors, generic airspace, mixed operations, automated separation assurance) in space-time were presented. An experiment on Traffic Flow Management (TFM) under mixed equipage conditions was particularly interesting. The research demonstrated in simulation how TFM could be used in mixed equipage airspace to selectively delay flights to increase airspace capacity when demand gets high enough. This also provides a natural incentive for aircraft to equip that is only in effect when needed. This is because as demand approached capacity, delaying unequipped aircraft first is most likely to increase airspace capacity to accommodate more of the remaining aircraft. Another natural result of this method is that exclusionary airspace is only in effect when and where necessary to accommodate the most aircraft.

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Shake-Down of a Human-In-The-Loop Evaluation of an Airport Surface Movement Optimization Algorithm: Retired controllers participated in a human-in-the-loop evaluation of an airport surface optimization algorithm in early December 2009 in NASA's Future Flight Central facility to prepare for a full-blown airport surface movement simulation in 2010. The Spot And Runway Departure Advisory (SARDA) human-in-the-loop experiment will provide an optimal sequence and timing for releasing departure aircraft from spots to the Ground Controller. The objective is to increase the departure runway throughput while reducing the runway queue size and minimizing taxi time by controlling spot release times of departure aircraft. A goal of this activity was to evaluate the functionality of the system and data collection process using the Surface Management System (SMS) and the Airspace Traffic Generator (ATG) that will be used in the full-blown simulation. Test scenarios were based on operations out of one terminal in Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport but the entire east airport operations will be simulated in follow-on simulations.

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Surface optimization NRA workshop held at San Jose State University: The third surface optimization NRA workshop was held at San Jose State University on January 27-28. Two NRA teams led by San Jose State University and Georgia Institute of Technology presented their results on the development of surface optimization algorithms and integration into their simulation software platforms. The NASA team discussed the human-in-the-loop surface simulation of the Spot and Runway Departure Advisory (SARDA) tool that was completed in December 2009 and results from their surface optimization algorithms. A third year goal of these NRA activities is to 1) improve robustness of the surface algorithms, 2) integrate algorithms, and 3) implement their algorithms into NASA's Surface Management System (SMS) that is a real-time simulation platform. The NASA team presented the new modular and extensible architecture of SMS software and the NRA teams showed a great interest in collaborating with NASA to implement their optimization algorithms for further evaluation on a common platform.

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Integrated Resilient Aircraft Control (IRAC) Simulation: The goal of the IRAC project is to arrive at a set of validated multidisciplinary integrated aircraft control design tools and techniques for enabling safe flight in the presence of adverse conditions (e.g., faults, damage and/or upsets). In this first study, conducted in September 2009 on the Advanced Concepts Flight Simulator (ACFS), Intelligent Systems Division (Code TI) researchers assessed strengths, weaknesses, robustness and characteristics of a variety of adaptive controllers using off-line metric analysis and pilot-in-the-loop evaluations. The technical approach included incorporating off-nominal conditions (damage models) in a high-fidelity simulation, implementing adaptive control technologies (ACTs) into a common architecture, and assessing those ACTs using both unpiloted (identified metrics) and piloted evaluations (measured by Cooper-Harper handling qualities ratings). Seven adaptive control technologies were integrated and flown by the pilots in the simulation. The piloted evaluations revealed interesting variations in performance with different adaptive control technologies. Several adaptive control technologies produced significant improvements when compared to the baseline controller. SimLabs staff assisted researchers in integrating the adaptive controllers into the ACFS, operated the simulator, and collected and formatted the data. A follow-on study is schedule for later in 2010 on the ACFS to look at flight planning and guidance aids added to the mixture of available tools.

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Last Updated: November 7, 2018

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