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HIGHLIGHTS ARCHIVE
10.29.10
Division Highlights

Contents This image shows en route controller workstations in the Air Traffic Management Laboratory in the Crew-Vehicle Systems Research Facility at NASA Ames Research Center.

Trajectory-Based Automation System for Enroute and Transition (TBAS-ET) Airspace Completes Evaluation of Near-Term Trajectory-Based Operations Concept
A simulation evaluation of a near-term concept for Trajectory-Based Operations (TBO) with air/ground datalink communication was completed the week of October 18 at NASA Ames in the Crew Vehicle Systems Research Facility (CVSRF). The simulation investigated whether a trajectory-based automation system that solves traffic conflicts, time-based metering problems, and weather-avoidance problems in an integrated fashion, with air/ground datalink communication, can produce substantial benefits for the National Airspace System (NAS). Thirty-one hours of simulation runs were conducted over twelve days, and utilized the SimLabs' distributed simulation environment, integrating both the Advanced Concepts Flight Simulator (ACFS) and Boeing 747-400 flight simulators, as well as the air traffic control simulation laboratories. A number of enhancements were made to the existing simulation environment to enable simultaneous display of weather information to the cockpit systems and en route sector displays. Eleven recently-retired controllers from Fort Worth Center, and twelve pilots familiar with today's integrated Flight Management System (FMS)/datalink operations participated in the simulation, which provided rapid-feedback trajectory automation at the Center radar controller position and currently operational capabilities for two-way air/ground datalink communication integrated with the FMS. Preliminary data analysis shows that higher proportions of datalink-equipped aircraft reduce controller workload, which allows the controllers to provide more efficient flight plan reroutes and respond to aircraft requests more quickly using the new trajectory automation features. Results of this simulation will be used to enhance the system's functionality in preparation for a follow-on simulation planned for Spring 2011; NASA is collaborating with the FAA to determine the feasibility of an operational evaluation of the near-term TBO concept in the next 2-3 years.

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Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration in the National Airspace System (NAS) project formed
On 21-22 October 2010, the acting UAS project office team members, together with representatives from NASA Dryden, Ames, Langley, and Glenn briefed the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate and a panel of other government agency experts on a plan to support the UAS Integration in the NAS Project. The project is part of the Integrated Systems Research Program Office and will have four primary technical focus areas that investigate aspects of Separation Assurance, Human Systems Integration, Communication, and Certification as they relate to unmanned controlled flight. A fifth area, Integrated Test and Evaluation, will focus on the integration of the four technical elements in a relevant environment via a series of simulations and flight tests. After a successful review, this 5-year/$150 million project was accepted for a fiscal year 2011 start.

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Partnership for Air Transportation Noise and Emission Reduction (PARTNER) Advisory Board Meeting and Presentation
Dr. Banavar Sridhar, Senior Scientist for Air Traffic Management, attended the Partnership for Air Transportation Noise and Emission Reduction (PARTNER) Advisory Board Meeting, October 19-21 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. PARTNER is a cooperative effort in environmental research, sponsored by NASA and FAA as well as other domestic agencies and Transport Canada. The organization funds research at several universities (including MIT, Stanford University, and Georgia Tech) who are investigating noise and emissions. At this meeting, the organization invited presentations on noise and emission research not funded by the PARTNER effort. Dr. Sridhar presented results on the trade-offs between fuel burn and contrail reduction using wind-optimal aircraft trajectories. His presentation generated interest from the climate scientists and FAA Office of Energy and Environment.

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User Preferences Research Presented at the Airline Dispatcher's Federation (ADF) Annual Symposium
Dr. Kapil Sheth was an invited speaker at the Airline Dispatcher's Federation (ADF) 2010 Annual Symposium in Washington, DC during the week of October 11. The symposium participants included representatives from the airlines, general aviation, and the air traffic management (ATM) research community as well as Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) management. Dr. Sheth presented a concept he is researching that prioritizes flights based on credit points that would be administered by the FAA. Results were presented from the human-in-the-loop experiments conducted at NASA Ames in January 2010. The ADF members' initial feedback was that the credit points concept provided a viable option for users to provide their flight preferences, in conjunction with FAA's Collaborative Trajectory Options Program. Several ADF members have requested participation in future experiments for this research.

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Terminal area research team visits Southern California (SoCal) Terminal Radar Control (TRACON)
On October 18, 2010, a terminal area research team focusing on the terminal tactical separation-assisted flight environment (Terminal TSAFE, or T-TSAFE) visited SoCal TRACON (San Diego, CA) in preparation for a human-in-the-loop experiment, planned for August 2011, that will test a conflict detection and resolution tool. The visit was facilitated by the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) Strategic Planning Advisory Review Cadre (SPARC) team. The planned experiment will evaluate an algorithm that provides controllers with conflict detection alerts. In cooperation with the FAA, the tool will be also be integrated with FAA's prototype Automatic Terminal Proximity Alert (ATPA) tool that detects compression errors in the final approach phase. The team met with SoCal TRACON experts and observed airspace over Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and the Southern California terminal area and identified areas where controllers have to exercise control to keep aircraft separated. Discussions were held on how conflict detection tools such as Conflict Alert and Terminal Proximity Alert (TPA) are currently used in the airspace. The team also had the opportunity to view a scenario development tool developed at SoCal TRACON, which the FAA uses for training purposes. The tool effectively creates conflicts in the airspace for training scenarios, and the T-TSAFE team plans to use this tool for generating traffic scenarios for the upcoming experiment.

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