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Division Highlights

Terminal Area Precision Scheduling Completes Major Simulation Milestone
The Terminal Area Precision Scheduling System (TAPSS) research team of the Super Density Operations research focus area (Airspace Systems Program) completed development of critical NextGen air traffic management technologies and major testing in a human-in-the-loop simulation. The TAPSS team developed a new precision scheduling system, advanced navigation concepts and controller advisory tools for metering in the terminal radar approach control (TRACON) airspace. Major technological enhancements were made to the NASA-developed and FAA-deployed Traffic Management Advisor (TMA) technology to provide precision metering schedules at flow merge-points within the terminal airspace. The TMA enhancements align with the FAA Time Based Flow Management long-term concept. A goal of the human-in-the-loop simulation was to evaluate the concept of precision metering with staged delay distribution to account for system uncertainty and provide the capability to conduct environmentally-friendly airspace procedures in high-density airspace. The experiment simulated traffic bound for Los Angeles International Airport, including Southern California TRACON and Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center (Center) operations. Twelve pseudo pilots and eight air traffic controllers (operating three Center metering sectors, three TRACON feeder positions and two TRACON final positions) performed the simulation July 26-30 at the air traffic management simulation laboratory at NASA Ames. This was the first integrated Center-TRACON simulation attempted in TAPSS, after having successfully completed separate TRACON and Center TAPSS simulations. The success of this Center/TRACON integration simulation paves the way for 4 more weeks of evaluations scheduled in August and September to evaluate delay reduction and increased controllability of traffic along precision navigation routes in the presence of uncertainty.

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Generic Airspace Phase 4 Simulation Completed
Phase 4 of the Generic Airspace research effort was completed with a successful human-in-the-loop simulation led by Dr. Richard Mogford (code TH), and the Generic Airspace Team, comprised of software developers and researchers from SimLabs (Aviation Systems Division, code AF) and the Human Systems Integration Division (code TH). The human-in-the-loop simulation, hosted in the Radar Air Traffic Control Laboratory in the Crew-Vehicle Systems Research Facility (CVSRF) at NASA Ames, evaluated methods for providing important airspace information or reducing sector information requirements to allow future air-traffic controllers to manage air traffic in NextGen airspace with reduced training. The simulation also investigated the effect of aircraft equipage segregation on the FAA's Mid-term, High Altitude Airspace Concept. The Controller Information Tool (CIT), an en-route auxiliary display, developed and refined in previous phases of this research effort, was used to provide controllers with critical information. The Multi Aircraft Control System (MACS) software was used to realistically emulate the FAA's en-route air traffic control user interface and was configured to provide several NextGen automation tools including digital data communication between pilot and controller (datacomm), conflict probe, and manual conflict resolution. Four controller positions, staffed by experienced operational air traffic controllers, were configured to run the same traffic scenario under four different conditions (baseline, weather, increased traffic flow, datacomm); varied levels of datacomm capabilities were evaluated. Controller performance data, impressions, and opinions were collected to evaluate system effectiveness. The simulation was successfully conducted over one week period in July 2010 and the data are currently being analyzed.

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Development of Predicted Contrail Frequency Index
Contrails are visible trails of water vapor produced by the exhaust of aircraft engines. Contrails appear and persist if aircraft are flying in certain atmospheric conditions, and their persistence results in reduced incoming solar radiation and outgoing thermal radiation in a way that accumulates heat on the Earth's surface. In order to measure this effect, the predicted contrail frequency index was developed. The index predicts regions that would form persistent contrails and quantifies the severity; the index is computed by weather forecasts and predicted aircraft locations. The results show that predicted indices in the next one to three hours are highly correlated with actual indices and have a high success rate in identifying regions with high contrail activities. Air traffic managers can use the predicted index in strategic planning to reduce contrail formations. The results of this study are being presented for peer review feedback at the AIAA Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference in Toronto, Canada from August 2-5.

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American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA)-funded NASA Research Announcement (NRA) kickoff meeting July 14
The “Surface Conflict Detection and Resolution with Emphasis on Trajectory-Based Operations” kickoff meeting was held July 14 at NASA Ames. The research performed under this NRA will help incorporate conflict detection and resolution (CD&R) principles for surface traffic into some existing capabilities developed as part of the Safe and Efficient Surface Operations (SESO) research focus area of the Airspace Systems Program. The NRA is expected to develop performance models of surveillance systems, a rule-based framework for short-term conflict detection, a probabilistic trajectory-prediction-based framework for long-term conflict detection, a search-based short-term conflict resolution algorithm and long-term conflict resolution procedures, as well as implement CD&R algorithms, and integrate and test with surface traffic simulations. The kickoff meeting was attended by NRA researchers from Optimal Synthesis Incorporated and Tufts University, including Dr. Victor Cheng (Principal Investigator) and Dr. Jason Rife (Co-Principal Investigator). Dr. Cheng presented the motivation, objectives, and work plan for his team's NRA effort.

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Last Updated: November 7, 2018

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