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NASA Air Traffic Management (ATM) Research Presented at 2012 AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference
August 24, 2012

Research describing results of quantifying environmental/climate impacts due to aviation, computing fuel use for various descent procedures, aircraft scheduling modeling, and the fast-time analysis of a NASA-developed surface scheduling tool were among the division’s papers presented at the 2012 AIAA Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) conference in Minneapolis, MN.

Two papers examining the aviation impact on the environment were presented. The first described the evaluation of a set of contrail reduction strategies based on the flight range of aircraft. In this work, division researchers found that contrail reduction strategies using various trade-off factors gave different results in contrail formation and CO2 emissions from short-range flights to long-range flights. The results provide a starting point for developing operational policies to reduce the impact of aviation on climate using aircraft flight distances. A second climate paper described the integration of a national-level air traffic simulation and optimization capability with simple climate models and carbon cycle models, and climate metrics to assess the impact of aviation on climate. The new capability can be used to make trade-offs between extra fuel cost and reduction in climate impact.

Another paper described the comparison of fuel consumption due to alternative descent trajectories from cruise altitude to a meter fix when a delay was required at the meter fix; the study showed that the most fuel-efficient speed control procedure for absorbing delay is reducing descent speed as much as possible and then reducing cruise speed. For some of these aircraft, flying at a fixed flight path angle and constant Mach and calibrated-airspeed combination resulted in lower fuel consumption compared to standard descents at idle-thrust and constant Mach and calibrated airspeed.

A study describing a multi-stage scheduling process for controlling arrivals destined for Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) when low visibility conditions are impacting the airport was also presented. Although the majority of the flights in the scenarios were able to arrive at ANC without receiving any delay, pre-departure scheduling was the dominant control for internal departures from within Anchorage Center. For long haul flights, the strategic scheduling algorithm performed best when the strategic scheduling horizon was greater than 1,000 nautical miles. In these cases, strategic scheduling delays were generally less than 15 minutes and changes to the calibrated airspeed were, on average, less than approximately 40 knots.

Finally, a fast-time study of a surface scheduling tool, the Spot and Runway Departure Advisor (SARDA) was performed and validated results from a human-in-the-loop simulation that was conducted in 2010. The results of the fast-time analysis bore out the potential benefits of SARDA and also determined that the resulting delays were about half that generated by a first-come-first-served scheduler.

Click here to see the full list of papers presented by the division at this year's GNC conference.

(POC: William Chan, Sandy Lozito, Banavar Sridhar)

Traffic Flow Management System Release 7 Deployment Team meeting
August 24, 2012

Several FAA and flight operator representatives involved in the Collaborative Airspace Constraint Resolution (CACR) Phase III deployment team met at the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, NJ, August 7-9, 2012. The CACR team is tasked with investigating the available modeling and what-if analysis capabilities for the FAA ReRoute Impact Assessment function. NASA was invited to present to the team their work and tools in Traffic Flow Management and provided a demonstration of the Future Air traffic management Concepts Evaluation Tool (FACET) software and the embedded multiple metering capability. The sector load impact and multiple traffic management initiatives (including ground delay programs) implementation were also demonstrated. Previous to this meeting, the FAA had indicated interest in working with NASA to understand and integrate the modeling within the Traffic Flow Management System. Another area of interest that came up during the meeting was to process historical data using NASA software to analyze and establish Airspace Flow Program (AFP) Flow Constrained Area (FCA) traffic crossing rates. Presently, when an FCA is used as a traffic management initiative, setting an appropriate rate is difficult. Additional details for the collaboration are being currently discussed. (POC: Kapil Sheth)

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