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Division Highlights

Photo of EDA simulations at the Crew-Vehicle Systems Research Facility at NASA Ames Research Center.
Efficient Descent Advisor Simulation

Human-in-the-Loop Simulation of the Efficient Descent Advisor
A human-in-the-loop simulation of the Efficient Descent Advisor (EDA) was successfully conducted the week of April 4, 2011 in the NASA Ames Crew-Vehicle Systems Research Facility. This was the fifth such simulation carried out under the 3D-Path Arrival Management (3D-PAM) technology-transition effort. Participants included active-duty controllers from Denver Center representing the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. The primary objective was to evaluate a new EDA design that provides advisories for all arrival aircraft at all times of day, regardless of demand-capacity constraints, thereby creating consistent arrival procedures. New procedures were also evaluated for minimizing the impact of top-of-descent uncertainty by delaying descent authorization until aircraft were within the sector in which the descent clearance was issued. Preliminary results suggest that the new designs and procedures evaluated in this simulation were viewed favorably by controllers. Representatives from various Federal Aviation Administration offices and Boeing visited NASA Ames to observe the simulation and to discuss strategy and requirements for technology transfer.

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Simulation of a Tactical Aircraft Separation Tool for Terminal Airspace Completed
Two weeks of human-in-the-loop simulations to evaluate a terminal tactical aircraft separation tool were successfully completed at NASA Ames in March and April 2011. The tool, called the terminal tactical separation assured flight environment (T-TSAFE), is a derivative of a previously-tested conflict detection and resolution tool for the en-route phase of flight. Evaluations of en route TSAFE show it has fewer false alerts (as low as 2 per hour) and better prediction to conflict time than NASA's implementation of the Federal Aviation Administration's Conflict Alert prediction tool. The simulation was conducted using the airspace around the Los Angeles International Airport and had two general objectives: first, to verify fast-time simulation results that show benefits of T-TSAFE over Conflict Alert, including reduced false/missed alerts and increased time to predicted loss of separation; and second, to define the controller procedures and information requirements for the tool's use. Eight retired Southern California TRACON controllers, 11 pseudo pilots and 2 subject matter experts participated in the study where T-TSAFE provided conflict detection alerts and the controllers were required to resolve conflicts in a manner similar to current-day procedures. Data were collected to evaluate the tool's impact on controller workload, intervention, and situation awareness and data analysis is underway.

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NASA Researchers Assist FAA with Initial NextGen Deployment
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Traffic Management Advisor (TMA) Program Office recently requested NASA's assistance in improving features within the operationally deployed TMA, which is an important component in the achievement of NextGen goals. NASA originally developed TMA as part of the Center-TRACON Automation System (CTAS) and transferred the technology to the FAA in the late 1990s. NASA continued to develop significant enhancements over the last decade to address evolving NextGen objectives. NASA researchers visited the FAA's Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center (Oakland Center) to better understand improvement opportunities for TMA. Oakland Center has a comparatively high rate of TMA metering delay events and employs two adjacent-center metering operations. The Oakland Center FAA managers were appreciative of the visit and will work with NASA to accomplish future observation and validation of analysis results.

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Study Finds Dynamic Weather Reroutes Save an Average of 4 Minutes per Eligible Flight
An initial study was conducted to explore the benefits of time-saving route amendments that avoid weather, called dynamic weather reroutes, using a dataset of flights that operated during twelve hours of severe weather that occurred over four days in the Fort Worth (Texas) Air Route Traffic Control Center. NASA's Direct-To decision support tool was used to select flights with direct routes that saved at least 5 minutes. Dynamic weather reroutes were generated from those direct routes that crossed convective weather and which were extended to traverse around the weather. The dynamic weather reroutes were found to save an average of four minutes per flight when compared to the original flight plan. The preliminary results were presented at the Airspace Systems Program Technical Interchange Meeting (San Diego, CA) in March 2011. Although the time-savings found in this study are noteworthy, the study only investigated a small number of flights. A new study investigating a larger sample is needed to substantiate the benefit and efforts are underway to expand the dataset.

Example of a dynamic weather reroute.
This figure represents an example of a dynamic weather reroute. The white solid line represents the aircraft’s current flight plan. The image shows that the aircraft must be rerouted due to convective weather. The yellow dotted line shows an initial direct route to its downstream fix that reduces flight time, but this route also encounters convective weather. The green dashed line shows a new dynamic weather reroute that avoids weather and decreases flight time.

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NASA Ames participation in the Airspace Systems Program Technical Interchange Meeting
Aviation Systems Division researchers were a significant presence at the Airspace Systems Program's annual Technical Interchange Meeting held in San Diego, CA, March 29-31, 2011. Division researchers gave over 20 technical presentations across all tracks at the meeting, and co-chaired the sessions in surface operations, trajectory-based operations, interoperability research, dynamic airspace, traffic flow management, system performance, super density operations, and maturing integrated technologies. Extensive demonstrations of decision support tools and air traffic management concepts as well as technical posters were showcased by Ames researchers and research partners from industry and academia. After the three-day meeting, a smaller group of researchers participated in presentations, demonstrations, and discussions with members of the air transportation industry.

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Last Updated: November 7, 2018

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