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HIGHLIGHTS ARCHIVE
06.23.10
Division Highlights

Contents
Demonstration of Terminal Area Paired Procedures Research to ARMD Leadership
The Terminal Area Paired Procedures Research (TAPPR) project's third experiment at the Crew-Vehicle Systems Research Facility (CVSRF) was demonstrated to the leadership of the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate including Dr. Jaiwon Shin, Associate Administrator, and Tom Irvine, Deputy Associate Administrator. The series of TAPPR experiments are designed to investigate approaches to parallel runways 750 feet apart in low visibility conditions and study the terminal area controller's delivery of aircraft pairs to the runways. This experiment combines the ground-based technology and procedures developed for the controllers during the two previous TAPPR experiments with new automation on the flightdeck. This integrated air/ground closely spaced approach simulation will use the NASA Ames Air Traffic Control simulation lab, and the Advanced Concepts Flight Simulator (ACFS) at CVSRF. The Aviation Safety program's Integrated Intelligent Flightdeck Design (IIFD) project and the Airspace Systems Program's Super Density Operations (SDO) research focus area collaborated to develop this experiment and will share the test results to fulfill independent milestones. The experiment also relies on a concept developed by Raytheon in collaboration with NASA and flight deck automation developed by NASA Langley Research Center. The goals for this experiment include understanding operational roles and responsibilities for pairing aircraft between ground and flight deck for precision approach and landing to closely-spaced parallel runways in instrument flight conditions. The experiment will also focus on exploring functional allocation of roles between the automation and humans by providing different displays for monitoring the ability of aircraft pairs to meet inter-pair spacing requirements. The simulated scenario will begin about 100 miles from the airport, where aircraft from different arrival streams will be paired and brought to a coupling point 15 miles from the runway threshold with one aircraft 5 to 25 seconds in trail of the other. At the coupling point, the speed of the trailing aircraft is coupled to the speed of the leading aircraft and flight deck automation, developed in the previous Very Closely Spaced Parallel Arrival (VCSPA) experiments, will be engaged. The experiment will begin this month and run for three weeks with experienced air traffic controllers and commercial aircraft crews serving as experiment participants.

ACES Workshop
The Systems Modeling and Optimization Branch (AFO) hosted a three day workshop to share research using the Airspace Concept Evaluation System (ACES). ACES is a non-real-time, computer simulation of local, regional and nationwide flight operations from gate departure to arrival. ACES's overarching objective is to provide a flexible simulation and modeling environment that can assess the impact of future Air Traffic Management (ATM) tools and concepts. Forty-seven researchers and software developers, which included representatives from the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO), the FAA Technical Center, NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Langley Research Center, Aerospace Computing Inc., Intelligent Automation Inc., Logistics Management Institute, Raytheon, Sensis, and the University Affiliated Research Center attended the workshop. Researchers from Ames presented completed or ongoing assessments of several ATM concepts. The concepts included integrated arrival and surface scheduling, separation assurance, terminal area merging and spacing, dynamic airspace configuration, and integration of traffic flow management and dynamic airspace configuration. Representatives from the JPDO were interested in using ACES as a system-wide cost and benefit analysis tool. Of particular interest were studies of the behavior and interactions of multiple ATM concepts in the presence of weather. The JPDO were also interested in using ACES in conjunction with other tools, such as tools for calculating noise and emissions. Representatives from the FAA Technical Center were using ACES to perform benefits assessments of planned upgrades scheduled for inclusion in their En-Route Automation Modernization (ERAM). Overall, the workshop feedback was positive and attendees requested to have similar workshops in the future on an annual basis. A representative from the JPDO suggested establishing an ACES user group.

NASA and FAA Researchers Collaborate on Dynamically Managing Airspace
NASA researchers and FAA members of the Concept Development Group met with active airspace line managers from the FAA SPARC (Strategic Planning Adivsory Review Cadre) team June 7-10 to discuss dynamic airspace configuration scenarios. SPARC team members provided feedback on acceptability, limitations, and coordination requirements for changing airspace boundaries in the FAA mid-term high altitude concept environment. They also provided positive and constructive feedback on the experiment plan for a NASA human-in-the-loop (HITL) simulation, planned for August 2010, exploring the role of the human operator in dynamic airspace configuration. Based on SPARC team feedback, the experiment plan for a fast-time mid-term DAC benefit analysis has been modified. They strongly recommended that airspace changes within mixed equipage airspace in the mid-term stay within controller areas of specialization. Dynamic airspace configuration within higher altitude generic airspace where all aircraft are trajectory-based operations (TBO) equipped should not be constrained to areas of specialization. The FAA concept development group will use the results of this modified fast-time analysis and the August HITL simulation to support their future research plan.

Simulation of Trajectory-Based Operations with Data Link Produces New Insights
The Aviation Systems Division is exploring a near-term concept for Trajectory-Based Operations (TBO) with air/ground data link communication that promises to dramatically improve the efficiency of operations in en-route and transition airspace. In over one hundred hours of laboratory simulation, NASA's prototype ground automation system--comprised of several new algorithms integrated into the Center/TRACON Automation System (CTAS)--controlled full Fort Worth Center traffic during busy periods from thirty two recent weekdays and involving over 37,000 individual flights. Prototype functionality included wind-favorable direct routes, minimum-fuel descent profiles, minimum-delay conflict resolutions, improved conflict detection for climbing flights, and independent tactical (0-3 minutes) conflict detection and resolution. The simulation environment modeled data-link delay characteristics and trajectory prediction uncertainty (aircraft weight, wind, and pilot execution delay). Analysis of the resulting data has identified several new and important automation and concept requirements for TBO with datalink. Top-of-descent prediction errors are the most significant contributor to loss-of-separation events, and improvements to descent predictions are required to achieve reliable minimum-fuel descent profiles in medium to heavy traffic. Under metering conditions, where aircraft are merging and descending to a common fix, the pilot's responsiveness in executing resolution maneuvers is especially critical; to reduce the variability, maneuver execution start points must be included as part of the trajectory clearance to the aircraft. Improvements to the climb detection logic have effectively eliminated conflict-detection failures due to climb uncertainty, the second-largest cause of failure. Unlike today's operational system (Conflict Alert), ground-based tactical conflict alerting automation must alert when an altitude amendment is entered, but before the aircraft starts the maneuver. In every other loss case in this analysis, tactical automation (TSAFE, the tactical separation assisted flight environment) prevented any loss of separation. The proposed concept and automation reduced the number of flight plan amendments by a factor of eight. A paper documenting the complete results will be presented at the 2010 Congress of the International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences, and the system is now being prepared for human-in-the-loop simulation testing in September/October 2010.

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