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Division Highlights

Rotational Throttle Interface (RTI) Qualitative Evaluation on the Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS)
A NASA simulation study investigated and compared the prototype Rotational Throttle Interface (RTI) for controlling the thrust of a Tiltrotor aircraft with an Air Bearing Thrust Control Lever (TCL) (representative of the TCL in the V-22 Osprey Tiltrotor aircraft). This concept demonstration and feasibility study compared the throttle controller configurations for Tiltrotor operations in airplane and helicopter modes and during conversion between these modes. The TCL actuates vertically with a helicopter collective style control, and does not change orientation as the Tiltrotor transitions from airplane to helicopter mode, making control of the vertical axis non-intuitive for helicopter pilots. The RTI is designed to provide an intuitive power control interface that matches control input sense to the vehicle's thrust axis response in thrust vectoring aircraft by actuating like a helicopter collective when in helicopter mode and like an aircraft throttle when in aircraft mode.

The study was conducted over two one-week periods in August and September in the NASA Ames I-Cab (fixed base) and Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS) (motion base) labs. Seven evaluation tasks were flown during the fixed-base sessions by four experienced V-22 and rotorcraft pilots, in which Cooper-Harper Handling Quality Ratings were collected. Although not part of the initial experiment plan, limited RTI evaluations were also flown with the cab in motion. The results showed that motion enabled the pilots to perform the tasks more precisely than during the fixed-base test, but did not affect their comments on the RTI's utility. The general pilot consensus was that despite satisfactory performance when in either airplane or helicopter mode, the RTI was confusing and non-intuitive during transition. Pilots reported problems determining which axis to move the throttle and that the rough feel of the inceptor made precise inputs difficult. Pilots also reported that the vibration that occurred during RTI movement gave good feedback of the nacelle position. One suggested improvement for the RTI included making the transition between modes pilot-selectable.

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EDA Flight Trials Underway
Flight trials began September 27 to evaluate the trajectory predictor supporting NASA's Efficient Descent Advisor (EDA), automation designed to enable fuel-efficient descents into congested terminal areas. The flight trials are measuring the accuracy of the EDA trajectory predictor and determining the sources and magnitudes of the errors in its predictions. Whereas a similar activity last year focused on commercial transport aircraft, the current flight trials focus on regional jet aircraft types. These aircraft constitute approximately one-third of arrival demand at major airports and tend to have different performance and vertical navigation capabilities than their mainline counterparts, posing different challenges for trajectory prediction. While the current flight trials through October 8 involve a single FAA flight test aircraft, flight trials will resume October 25 involving SkyWest Airlines arrivals to Denver over several weeks.

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Interagency Technical Interchange Meeting on Precision Departure Scheduling
On September 23rd, the Aviation Systems Division hosted an interagency technical interchange meeting to discuss the Precision Departure Release Capability (PDRC) research activity. PDRC aims to improve scheduling of departures into constrained overhead streams of aircraft. NASA and FAA stakeholders were briefed on PDRC progress over the last year and provided feedback on plans for the coming year. During the past year, the PDRC research team implemented the concept in prototype software that couples an en route departure scheduling system with a trajectory-based surface automation system. The PDRC prototype software is currently undergoing live-data, engineering shadow evaluations at NASA's North Texas Research Station (NTX) to verify system performance and refine the operational concept and test procedures. Plans for the coming year include shadow and operational evaluations with FAA subject matter experts. FAA representatives from the System Operations, Terminal Services and NextGen and Operations Planning organizations participated in the meeting, which included a live-data demonstration of the prototype software and a special session devoted to PDRC benefits mechanisms and assessment methodologies. Participants expressed support for the PDRC research activity and provided valuable feedback that is being incorporated in the PDRC Concept of Operations, Research Management Plan and NASA/FAA Integrated Arrival/Departure/Surface (IADS) research transition product definition.

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Aviation Systems Division presents technical work at International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS)
Seven air traffic management researchers from the Aviation Systems Division presented technical papers and served as session chairs at the September 2010 ICAS conference in Nice, France. The conference was sponsored by numerous international aeronautics and aviation societies (including the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics [AIAA] and the Royal Aeronautical Society), and encouraged international, coordinated research collaboration and sustainable aviation in the design of future aviation systems. Papers were presented highlighting the division's work in efficient arrivals in constrained airspace, collaborative air traffic management, dynamic route structures and methods for airspace configuration, a near-term concept for trajectory-based operations, automated conflict resolution, and the environmental impact of aviation operations. Presentations were well-received by an international audience of air transportation and aeronautics/aerospace scientists and researchers. A list of the presented papers and links to the documents is below.

Bloem, M., Gupta, P., "Configuring Airspace Sectors with Approximate Dynamic Programming," 27th International Congres of the Aeronautical Sciencs (ICAS), Nice, France, 19-24 Sep. 2010.
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Coppenbarger, R., Dyer, G., Hayashi, M., Lanier, R., Stell, L., Sweet, D., "Development and Testing of Automation for Efficient Arrivals in Constrained Airspace," 27th International Congres of the Aeronautical Sciencs (ICAS), Nice, France, 19-24 Sep. 2010.
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Erzberger, H., Lauderdale, T. A., and Chu, Y., "Automated Conflict Resolution, Arrival Management and Weather Avoidance for ATM," 27th International Congres of the Aeronautical Sciencs (ICAS), Nice, France, 19-24 Sep. 2010.
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McNally, D., Mueller, E., Thipphavong, D., Paielli, R., Cheng, J., Lee, C., Sahlman, S., and Walton, J., "A Near-Term Concept for Trajectory-Based Operations With Air/Ground Data Link Communication," 27th International Congres of the Aeronautical Sciencs (ICAS), Nice, France, 19-24 Sep. 2010.
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Sheth, K., and Gutierrez-Nolasco, S., "Analysis of Factors for Incorporating User Preferences in Air Traffic Management: A System Perspective," 27th International Congres of the Aeronautical Sciencs (ICAS), Nice, France, 19-24 Sep. 2010.
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Sridhar, B., Chen, N., Ng, H. K., "Simulation and Optimization Methods for Assessing the Impact of Aviation Operations on the Environment," 27th International Congres of the Aeronautical Sciencs (ICAS), Nice, France, 19-24 Sep. 2010.
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Zelinski, S., and Jastrzebski, "Defining Dynamic Route Structure for Airspace Configuration," 27th International Congres of the Aeronautical Sciencs (ICAS), Nice, France, 19-24 Sep. 2010.
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Last Updated: November 7, 2018

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