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Visual Environments and Handling Qualities Simulation at the Vertical Motion Simulator
July 11, 2013

Photo of the view from the inside of the Vertical Motion Simulator
Simulator cockpit view

For four weeks in June 2013, seventeen test pilots participated in an experiment at the Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS) investigating the effects of control system augmentation on handling qualities and task performance in different visual environments for small helicopters. The main objective of the Good Visual Environments/Degraded Visual Environments (GVE/DVE) Handling Qualities (HQ) Simulation was to assess and quantify the benefits of increased control augmentation on a partial authority flight control architecture with a focus on civil medical evacuation missions in DVE. The test pilots performed 1466 maneuvers in this collaborative study between the NASA Rotary Wing Project and the US Army. (POC: Steve Beard)

Best Paper Award at the American Helicopter Society Forum
July 11, 2013

Image of the OH-58 helicopter as seen in the simulation.
Medevac version of the OH-58 helicopter displayed in the simulation

The Aerospace Simulation Research and Development Branch (AFS) presented their research on simulation fidelity at the American Helicopter Society's 69th Annual Forum in Phoenix, Arizona in May 2013. This prestigious international conference is the premier venue for the exchange and discussion of technical progress in vertical flight technology. The paper titled, “Simulation System Fidelity Assessment at the Vertical Motion Simulator” received the Best Paper award in the Modeling and Simulation track authored by AFS branch members. The paper described a study, which demonstrated the improvement in simulation results when the end-to-end simulation system response is optimized to be similar to flight. (POC: Steve Beard)

FAA Visit to NASA North Texas Research Station
July 11, 2013

Photo of the front of the NTX building
NASA North Texas Research Station

NASA recently hosted a visit from the FAA Director of Investment Planning and Analysis, Ms. Kristen Burnham, at the NASA North Texas Research Station (NTX) in Fort Worth. Ms. Burnham was provided a tour of the NTX laboratory facility, located on the grounds of the Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center. The NTX staff provided a tour of the laboratory facility where National Airspace System data is collected and analyzed by NASA researchers, and also described recent research highlighting the Precision Departure Release Capability (PDRC) and Dynamic Weather Routes (DWR), and current plans for technology transfer through the FAA-NASA Research Transition Team. (POC: Shawn Engelland)

Dynamic Weather Routes (DWR) Release 2.0 Installed at American Airlines Integrated Operations Center
July 11, 2012

Photo of an American Airlines System Operations Center emloyee in front of a workstation running DWR
Dynamic Weather Routes tool in operation at the American Airlines System Operations Center, Fort Worth, TX

The Dynamic Weather Routes (DWR) software Release 2.0 was installed on the American Airlines (AA) trial system in Fort Worth, Texas on Monday July 1, 2013. The new software selects DWR routes accounting for expected time required for flight dispatchers and pilots to evaluate, coordinate, and implement reroutes. It also enables users at the airline operations center to interactively examine the impact of maneuver execution delay on flying time savings, weather proximity, traffic conflicts, and other factors. Other new features include automation to prevent routes through narrow gaps in convective weather cells, and identification of flights on weather-avoidance routes previously prescribed by the FAA's Air Traffic Control System Command Center. Prior to the release, several members of the NASA DWR team visited the AA Integrated Operations Center in Fort Worth to review the new software, obtain user feedback, and discuss plans for the DWR trial going forward. About 25 AA users and managers participated in several meetings over three days and all remain very supportive of DWR. One outcome was that AA has now assigned staff to improve communication and coordination of reroutes between Air Traffic Control Coordinators, AA's primary users of DWR, and individual Flight Dispatchers who send DWR reroutes to the flights. Separately, data analysis shows an estimated actual savings of 360 flying minutes for 46 AA flights during the month of May 2013, which included several heavy convective weather days. The next steps are to investigate the use of DWR technology for flights nearing their destination airport, including the application of common reroutes for multiple flights and those with time-based metering constraints, investigate generalized methods to adapt DWR for all en route Centers, and help facilitate technology transfer. Several companies have expressed interest in the commercialization of DWR. (POC: Dave McNally)

Human-in-the-Loop Simulation of UAS Automation Levels and Traffic Alerting
July 11, 2012

This graphic has a photo of the simulation Pseudo-pilot stations at the top, a photo of the Air Traffic Control stations at the bottom left, and a photo of the Vigilant Spirit Control Station at the bottom right.

A human-in-the-loop simulation of levels of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) automation control and alerting of air traffic conflicts began data collection July 3 and will continue through July 31, at the Flight Deck Display Research Lab at NASA Ames Research Center. The simulation supports the goal of reducing barriers to the integration of UAS with the National Airspace System (NAS) under NASA's UAS in the NAS project and is led by the Human Systems Integration (HSI) sub-project, with significant participation from the Integrated Test & Evaluation (IT&E) and Separation assurance/Sense and avoid Interoperability (SSI) sub-projects. The simulation has two primary goals: collect data on the ability of a pilot to quickly and accurately respond to air traffic control (ATC) clearances and automation advisories/warnings using three different pilot-automation interfaces; and demonstrate the integration of the Air Force Research Lab's Vigilant Spirit Control Station with NASA traffic displays and separation alerting and resolution algorithms. The successful integration will significantly reduce risk in the execution of future simulations and flight tests.

The SSI sub-project developed and delivered algorithms that provide the UAS's sense-and-avoid (SAA) capabilities. The SAA system models the UAS's surveillance system, identifying intruder aircraft and displaying them on the Cockpit Situation Display (CSD) for the pilot's situational awareness. The SAA algorithm also evaluates whether intruders will pass closer than an airborne separation standard, also known as a “well-clear violation” and displays such targets to the pilot so an appropriate resolution maneuver can be negotiated with ATC. The SAA algorithm also recommends maneuvers for the pilot to immediately execute in the event of reaching a collision avoidance threshold. The study will inform key research questions for the UAS community, including definition of the airborne separation standard “well clear,” and the appropriate time and distance thresholds at which to notify the pilot of potential collision situations. (POC: Eric Mueller, Aisha Bowe)

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