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Photo of several NASA researchers sitting at ATC simulation stations.
NASA researchers participate as air traffic controllers during TAPSS shakedown simulations in NASA's Air Traffic Management Laboratory

Terminal Area Research Papers Presented at Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC) 2011
The Aviation Systems Division produced several papers presented at the 2011 DASC held in Seattle, Washington, October 16-20, and two represented work performed in support of terminal area research. One, “Effects of Scheduling and Spacing Tools on Controller's Performance and Perceptions of their Workload” authored by Lynne Martin (code TH), Harry Swenson, Alex Sadovsky, Jane Thipphavong, Liang Chen and Anthony Seo (all of code AF) was awarded best paper in session. The paper documented recent Terminal Area Precision Spacing and Scheduling (TAPSS) system human-in-the-loop simulation experiments and the positive system performance and workload benefits. The TAPSS system research has been focused on investigating potential benefits for NextGen mid-term operations and forms the basis for the Airspace Technology Demonstration-1.

A second paper, “Optimal Time Advance in Terminal Area Arrivals: Throughput vs. Fuel Savings” authored by Alex Sadovsky and Harry Swenson (NASA) and William Haskell and Jasenka Rakas (University of California at Berkeley) was presented that described a study investigating trade-offs required in speeding up arrivals when demand nears capacity at high-density airports. The paper described a study in which a formulation was developed to identify speeds for each aircraft, while explicitly meeting required separation requirements. An optimal control approach was selected that enabled the direct trade of delay and fuel burn. Starting with a simplified model, the approach was prototyped and used to show that, near airport saturation, one can control the trade-off by varying the priority coefficient of fuel savings. The eventual impact of this work will be in rapidly computing speed advisories to aid controllers in real-time. (POC: Sandy Lozito)

Photo of air traffic controllers sitting at ATC simulation stations during an EDA study.
EDA Simulation

Final Efficient Descent Advisor Simulation Completed for 3-Dimensional Path Arrival Management
The seventh and final in a series of human-in-the-loop simulations of the Efficient Descent Advisor (EDA) was successfully completed the week of September 26 in the NASA Ames Crew-Vehicle Systems Research Facility (CVSRF). The EDA simulation was carried out under the 3D-Path Arrival Management (3D-PAM) technology-transition effort with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Controllers from Denver En route Center, including two active-duty controllers representing the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, participated in the simulation, along with airline pilots who flew the Boeing 747 and 737 cockpit simulators at the CVSRF. This was the first simulation to make use of the new B737 model installed in the CVSRF's Advanced Concepts Flight Simulator. The simulation compared EDA build 5.0 operations, using technologies that have evolved through the previous 3D-PAM simulations, to measure potential benefits in terms of controller workload, operational acceptability, pilot workload, meter-fix-delivery accuracy, separation assurance, and fuel consumption, against a baseline condition of providing only metering advisories from the Traffic Management Advisor (TMA). Initial controller feedback was positive, with favorable comparison to preliminary analyses of post-run controller ratings showing improvements in workload and operational acceptability with EDA. Initial analysis also indicates a significant reduction in the number of maneuver clearances using EDA, along with a marked reduction in level-off segments and overall airspace complexity, improved metering accuracy and precision, and a substantial reduction in the number of manual schedule swaps required by the controller. The simulation was also attended by government and industry stakeholders, including the FAA, Boeing, MITRE and Volpe. Technology transfer efforts are on track for completion later this year. (POC: Rich Coppenbarger)

Photo of the cab inside the Advanced Concepts Flight Simulator.
Advanced Concepts Flight Simulator

Boeing 737-800W Model Integrated with the Advanced Concepts Flight Simulator
The Simulation Laboratories (SimLabs) at NASA Ames Research Center completed integration of the Boeing 737-800W airframe model with the Advanced Concepts Flight Simulator (ACFS) at the Crew-Vehicle Systems Research Facility (CVSRF) and successfully integrated it with the seventh and final simulation of the Efficient Descent Advisor (EDA). To facilitate the accurate descent trajectories required for the simulation, the Boeing 737 autopilot functionality was implemented and integrated with the simulator's GE Aviation simulated Flight Management System (sFMS). The high-fidelity engine and fuel-burn models available with the 737 and 747 simulation models allowed comparison of the fuel used during descent, with and without EDA. The initial integration and testing of the B737-800W model on the ACFS was funded by an American Recovery and Reinvestment task order. (POC: Bimal Aponso)

Representation of a controller's radar display using TBAS.
Screenshot of the Trajectory-Based Automation System controller display

Successful Test of En Route Trajectory Automation Integrated with Today's Data Comm and En Route Automation Modernization
Two-way air/ground data-link communication (data comm) using today's actual data comm network (ARINC) and actual Boeing 777 flight hardware was demonstrated using NASA ground-based trajectory automation from the Center/TRACON Automation System (CTAS) at Ames and a B777 simulator equipped with integrated Flight Management System (FMS)/data comm at Boeing in Seattle, Washington. The Boeing “Gateway” application enabled a variety of route and altitude messages anticipated to be typical in future NextGen Data Comm operations, such as log-on and log-off needed to establish and discontinue data comm, route and altitude uplink and downlink messages and their associated wilco and/or unable messages, and downlink of aircraft flight plan intent and FMS trajectory intent data. The work completes an FY10/11 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act task to prototype the integration of NASA ground-based trajectory automation with today's integrated FMS/data comm and the FAA's En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) system. Similar testing in August 2011 at Lockheed-Martin (Rockville, Maryland), demonstrated two-way communication between CTAS and ERAM. Lockheed and Boeing together have proposed to NASA that this integrated CTAS/data comm/ERAM system be the basis for operational trials of Trajectory-Based Automation with Data Comm in FY13/14 time frame. (POC: Dave McNally)

Photo of PDRC simulation participants in an air traffic control tower.
Participants in a PDRC evaluation at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

NASA/FAA Collaborative Research to Improve Tactical Departure Scheduling
Development, evaluation, and transition of the Precision Departure Release Capability (PDRC) continues with a new NASA Research Announcement (NRA) contract and further collaboration with the FAA. At a NRA contract kickoff meeting held October 21st, Mosaic ATM, Inc. presented plans to enhance and extend the PDRC concept, collect quantitative PDRC benefits data via operational evaluations, and support transition of NASA-developed PDRC technology to the FAA. In a separate, but related event on October 25th, FAA headquarters stakeholders visited the NASA/FAA North Texas Research Station to assess the maturity of the PDRC concept and discuss how best to transfer PDRC technology for implementation in the National Airspace System. NASA presented recently published results and provided a live-traffic demonstration of the PDRC system. The FAA stakeholders reiterated their interest in the PDRC concept and technology and expressed strong commitment to the technology transition effort. Next steps include refinements to the PDRC research management plan to reflect NASA and FAA stakeholder feedback and additional meetings to engage with additional FAA stakeholders regarding PDRC technology transfer. (POC: Shawn Engelland)

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Last Updated: November 7, 2018

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