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Traffic Flow Management Impact on Delay and Fuel Consumption, an Atlanta Case Study
November 15, 2012

Results of a yearlong study were recently published in the most recent edition of the Air Traffic Control Quarterly journal. The study examined the potential impact of controlling Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport arrivals using a new control strategy that is referred to as a Traffic Management Advisor Flow Program. This new capability reduces the demand for a capacity-limited airport by assigning pre-departure delays to flights bound for the airport. With the help of traffic flow managers at the FAA's Air Traffic Control System Command Center, operationally viable scenarios were developed that were subsequently explored by NASA researchers through fast-time simulations. The emphasis of the study was on examining the distribution of delays and emissions for flights included and exempt from this new capability. Among the key findings from this study was that as the flow rate of the Traffic Management Advisor Flow Program was increased from 54 aircraft per hour to 80 aircraft per hour, the fuel burn and emissions associated with airborne holding was found to increase by over 100%. Although this increase in fuel burn and emissions, in general, represents a small percent of the total fuel burn and emissions associated with the entire flight’s trajectory, it does illustrate the importance of considering the delays as well as the emissions associated with future traffic flow management control strategies. (POC: Shon Grabbe)

NASA Develops Technology To Aid Regional Jet Operators
November 15, 2012

NASA engineers met with flight operations personnel from regional jet operator SkyWest Airlines to discuss recent NASA findings, which suggest that SkyWest could save upwards of 50 pounds of fuel per regional jet flight by altering their arrival procedures to use more optimal flight path angles that would avoid the need to deploy speed brakes. NASA has developed an algorithm that can inform operators, such as SkyWest, what flight path angle would be optimal given the prevailing winds, route of flight and other factors such as the descent-speed profile being advised by the Efficient Descent Advisor (EDA), where in use. These savings are over and above the fuel and environmental benefits provided by EDA, and the new algorithm/tool would also reap benefits for un-delayed flights (e.g., into low-density "out stations"), essentially providing EDA-like benefits without using EDA. The SkyWest officials quickly validated that even 20 pounds of fuel savings would make an operationally and economically significant difference, since their policy is to plan fuel loads down to tens of pounds. They also confirmed the viability of the proposed operational concept for the tool. An invention disclosure is being written, and planning for a January technical interchange meeting at Ames Research Center is underway. (POC: Steve Green)

NASA and FAA Continue Field evaluation of the Precision Departure Release Capability
November 15, 2012

Photos of the inside of the DFW air traffic control tower and the en route control facility.
PDRC studies at DFW tower and Fort Worth en route control facility (Click image to enlarge)

Last week, NASA and the FAA resumed field evaluation of the Precision Departure Release Capability (PDRC). NASA has developed PDRC to improve tactical departure operations by enabling the automated exchange of surface information to en route tactical departure scheduling systems. The first phase of the PDRC field evaluation was conducted from May-July of 2012. The second phase began November 5th and will run through early 2013. Objectives for this field evaluation are to validate the PDRC concept, assess core system performance, and evaluate enhancements that provide tower controllers with greater insight into en route traffic conditions. These objectives will be accomplished as FAA Traffic Management Coordinators from Fort Worth ARTCC (Air Route Traffic Control Center) and Dallas/Fort Worth TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control) and Towers use PDRC to schedule actual operational departures subject to traffic management restrictions. NASA and the FAA are coordinating closely on technology transfer of PDRC research products. (POC: Shawn Engelland)

Air Traffic Management Technology Demonstration-1 (ATD-1) Research Transition Team Kickoff
November 15, 2012

The ATD-1 team participated in a kickoff meeting of the NASA-FAA Research Transition Team on November 6-7 in Washington, DC. The meeting included representatives from participating FAA organizations and ATD-1 capabilities were described. Discussions were held regarding relevant FAA internal schedules and funding decision points, and plans for a joint field demonstration. (POC: Ron Johnson)

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