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Completion of NRA on Weather Translation Models
January 6, 2014

On December 10, 2013, Metron Aviation summarized accomplishments of the NASA Research Announcement (NRA) effort, “Weather Translation Models for Strategic Traffic Flow Management (TFM)” performed by Metron and the STAR (Science and Technology in Atmospheric Research) Institute. Several weather translation models developed and enhanced during the course of this project were discussed, including the Integrated Airport Capacity Model (IACM), the Winter Weather Airport Capacity Model (WWACM), and the Turbulence Avoidance Model. The presentation highlighted a new probabilistic avoidance algorithm generating robust sets of rerouting options that avoid multiple simultaneous weather constraints such as convective storm and turbulence avoidance. Furthermore, data requirements for generating probabilistic forecast information for these models were discussed and followed by results of sensitivity analyses and validation studies. A simulation system was also introduced that allows for analysis of weather impacts on TFM, capable of supporting multiple types of aviation weather hazards and multiple domains, such as convective storms and turbulence in en route airspace and winter weather, ceiling, visibility, and surface winds impacting terminal airspace and airport operations. (POC: William Chan)

Charlotte Ramp Tower Simulation with US Airways Controllers
January 6, 2014

Photograph of a NASA researcher using the SARDA tool during a simulation.
The Spot and Runway Departure Advisor tool

On December 13, 2013, the Spot and Runway Departure Advisor (SARDA) team completed the first in a set of six experiments aimed at adapting and simulating operations at the US Airways ramp tower at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT) in NASA's FutureFlight Central (FFC) facility. This first phase of development focused on establishing the capability for simulating US Airways ramp tower operations, using a four-sector (ramp) configuration, and simulating two-hour long scenarios including arrival and departure rushes and turn-around traffic.

Under a non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement, signed earlier in 2013, to partner in this research and development effort, US Airways supplied two ramp controllers to participate in the simulation, working with confederate ramp controllers, FAA CLT tower controllers, and eight pseudo-pilots. FFC was configured to mimic today's working environment at the CLT ramp tower, including paper strips and maps supplied at each sector and an ASDE-X-like display system to augment the out-the-window view. US Airways is planning to transition from the current day, two-sector configuration (inbound and outbound) to the four-sector setup (North, East, South, and West ramp). FFC configured the four-sector layout and gave the US Airways team a chance to experience the four-sector layout for the first time.

The development of simulation scenarios was a major challenge for this simulation effort. The US Airways team is seeking ways to smoothly transition through the arrival-departure push with gate holding advisories. The turn-around scenario required major code development in both of NASA's target generator and surface systems, as well as some modification to the MaxSim visual system. In all, two and a half days of multiple two-hour long scenarios including turn-around traffic, were accomplished. Feedback from the participants was collected towards improving the next phase of testing, including fine-tuning the scenarios, operational procedures (in both the ramp and the FAA towers), routing options, aircraft performance modeling, and software changes. One of the most surprising findings was that after having worked the novel four sector rotation during the simulation, the US Airways controllers found the South ramp experienced higher workload than the other three sectors. This outcome will prompt the controllers to recommend potential changes to the proposed sector configurations to their management.

The next two SARDA capability build-up phases will focus on supplying the ramp controller with a newly-developed user interface that combines electronic flight strips with an electronic map, and incorporating the gate pushback scheduler through dynamically updated advisories on the electronic flight strips. (POC: Ty Hoang)

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