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HIGHLIGHTS ARCHIVE
03.16.11
Division Highlights

Contents
Screenshot of FACET display of air traffic across the continental United States.
FACET integrates weather and air traffic information, which enables systems operators to reroute flights to maintain safety and minimize delay.

FACET Wins 2010 NASA Government Invention of the Year Award
The NASA Office of the Chief Counsel has selected the Future ATM (Air Traffic Management) Concepts Evaluation Tool (FACET) from Ames as its Government Invention of the Year. The team was led by Banavar Sridhar and included team members Karl Bilimoria, Kapil Sheth, Shon Grabbe and Gano Chatterji (UARC). Their outstanding work has made a significant contribution to making our airspace safer, increasing fuel efficiency, and minimizing airplane emissions. This is the first time that a software invention has won the Invention of the Year award. The NASA Administrator will present the NASA Invention of the Year award at the NASA Project Management Challenge in February 2012 in Orlando, Florida.

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Human-in-the-Loop Flight Prioritization Simulation Completed
A system for prioritizing flights traveling through constrained airspace was evaluated in a simulation environment at Metron Aviation, Inc., February 22-24, 2011. The system allows airline dispatchers to specify their high priority flights by assigning them credits, which are allocated to the dispatchers according to their number of flights. The credit assignment software developed at NASA was integrated in the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) System-wide Enhancements for Versatile Electronic Negotiation (SEVEN) framework. The FAA has planned for SEVEN to become operational in the fall 2011 under the Collaborative Trajectory Options Program. The integrated system provides 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 Continental, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and United Airlines used the system to manage a set of flights through several simulated air traffic scenarios. A current FAA air traffic manager set constraints on airspace capacities. Data and post-experiment surveys indicated that dispatchers effectively mitigated delays among their flights based on their priorities. Credits allowed them greater flexibility to achieve their business objectives. Recommendations for future experiments included researching other credit allocation schemes and evaluating alternate constraint resolution methods.

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NASA and MIT/Lincoln Laboratory Airport Surface Management Technical Interchange Meeting
NASA and MIT/Lincoln Laboratory (MIT/LL) met at the MIT/LL facility in Lexington, Massachusetts in March 8, 2011 to share results and plans for airport surface management research. Gautam Gupta, Yoon Jung, and William Chan from NASA Ames presented results and optimization algorithms used in NASA's fast-time airport surface simulation platform as well as from an airport surface human-in-the-loop simulation conducted in April-May 2010. Researchers from MIT/LL presented their progress in developing the Tower Flight Data Manager system, discussed the pushback control study at Boston’s Logan Airport, taxi time estimation, improvements in surface winds forecasts, and strategies for enabling the Route Availability Planning Tool to work with airport surface management. The meeting ended with plans for both research groups to discuss possible areas of mutually beneficial collaboration.

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Generic Airspace Phase 5 Simulation
In March 2011, the radar air traffic control (ATC) Laboratory in the Crew-Vehicle Systems Research Facility and the Pilot Simulation Laboratory in Future Flight Central successfully hosted the fifth in a series of human-in-the-loop simulations evaluating the Generic Airspace concept. The simulation team, including software developers and researchers from Ames SimLabs (Aviation Systems Division) and the Human Systems Integration Division, evaluated the Controller Information Tool (CIT), an auxiliary display used to provide enroute controllers with critical information on traffic flows, sector information, and special use airspace. The CIT is designed to reduce sector information requirements and allow future air traffic controllers to manage air traffic in Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) airspace with reduced training. In this simulation, a new integrated, onscreen CIT was compared against the existing separated or off-screen CIT used in prior Generic Airspace simulations. The effect of mixed aircraft datacomm equipage on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA's) Mid-term, High Altitude Airspace Concept was also investigated. In a parallel effort, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Waterloo evaluated controller decision-making in this simulation. The Multi Aircraft Control System (MACS) software was used to emulate the FAA's en-route air traffic control Display System Replacement (DSR) radar display and user interface. MACS was configured to provide several NextGen automation tools including datacomm, conflict probe, and manual conflict resolution. Sixteen experienced air-traffic controllers and eight pseudo pilots supported the simulation. The data are currently being analyzed.

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