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FAA Approves Deployment of NASA's Terminal Sequencing and Spacing (TSS)
May 1, 2015

The larger image shows efficient flight paths enabled by TSS tools. The inset shows inefficient flight paths due to vectoring.
Today's air traffic management operations with TSS tools and without (inset)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) successfully passed its final investment decision for full-scale implementation of the latest NASA-developed air traffic management (ATM) tools that allow air traffic controllers to maximize the benefits of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures on approach to the runway. These tools, called Terminal Sequencing and Spacing (TSS), combine time-based arrival scheduling and display aids for air traffic controllers. TSS allows use of fuel-efficient Area Navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) arrival procedures in terminal airspace during the busiest traffic conditions when they would otherwise be interrupted. The increased use of PBN procedures will reduce vectoring, require less level-offs at intermediate altitudes, and result in fewer verbal communications between controllers and pilots. The FAA plans to deploy TSS to five busy airports–Phoenix Sky Harbor, Houston Intercontinental, Atlanta Hartsfield, Seattle-Tacoma, and Los Angeles–starting in 2018.

Leveraging several decades of ATM research, development of TSS began in 2009 under NASA's ATM Technology Demonstration #1, or ATD-1 effort. Between 2009 and 2014, NASA conducted 26 large-scale, human-in-the-loop simulations to refine the TSS algorithms, displays, and procedures. These simulations leveraged three world-class simulation facilities at NASA Ames Research Center: the Aviation Systems Division's Air Traffic Control (ATC) Simulation Laboratory and Crew-Vehicle Systems Research Facility (CVSRF) and the Human Systems Integration Division's Airspace Operations Lab (AOL). Additional simulations were performed in collaboration with the FAA and the MITRE Corporation's Center for Advanced Aviation System Development (CAASD), and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). During development of TSS, two FAA operational systems – the Time-Based Flow Management (TBFM) system and the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) – were modified to include the TSS technologies. NASA transferred these operational prototypes at Technology Readiness Level 6 to the FAA in 2014. The final joint TSS simulation, called the Operational Integration Assessment (OIA), between NASA, the FAA, and NATCA, will be conducted in May 2015, and will be used to mitigate risks in the operational deployment of TSS. (POC: John Robinson)

Completion of Operational Integration Assessment (OIA) Shakedown #2
May 1, 2015

The Operational Integration Assessment (OIA) is an FAA/NASA demonstration of the FAA's Ground-based Interval Management for Spacing (GIM-S) integrated with NASA's Terminal Sequencing and Spacing (TSS) ground automation technology. The OIA will take place at the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center (WJHTC) using National Air Traffic Controller Association (NATCA) participants, May 12-21, 2015. The main objective of the OIA is to identify TSS operational risks that need to be addressed prior to transitioning TSS from the laboratory to the National Airspace System (NAS). To prepare for the OIA “Run for Record,” two important shakedowns are scheduled in April.

The first OIA shakedown was completed April 7-9, 2015. The second OIA shakedown was completed April 28-30, 2015, and included the participation of 22 pseudo pilots and 18 controllers, including NATCA traffic management coordinators (TMCs) from Memphis and Cleveland Centers and Houston terminal area approach control (TRACON), and NATCA controllers from Washington, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Miami, Atlanta, Denver, Philadelphia, and Central Florida. Ten simulation runs were conducted, and the OIA risks were addressed satisfactorily, thus leading to the OIA team to conclude that the Run for Record simulations should proceed as scheduled starting May 12, 2015. Additional work in preparation for the Run for Record is proceeding, to finalize the daily run schedule and modifications to improve controller training. (POC: Kevin Witzberger)

NASA researchers discuss SARDA field testing with American Airlines Charlotte Airport Ramp Managers
May 1, 2015

NASA researchers visited the American Airlines Ramp Tower at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (North Carolina) April 14-15, 2015. Under a Space Act Agreement between NASA and American Airlines, the NASA team discussed requirements for an operational test of NASA's Spot and Runway Departure Advisor (SARDA) technology. SARDA was developed to reduce taxi times and fuel emissions by taking the delays at the gate and providing the ramp controllers with departure pushback advisories and has been tested in human-in-the-loop simulations at NASA Ames Research Center, most recently with participation from American Airlines ramp personnel. During this trip, the NASA team observed ramp operations, especially the change on operations from three sectors (in-bound traffic, out-bound traffic, and north sector traffic) to four sectors (one for each direction, i.e., North, East, South, and West). Discussions were held about field test procedures and logistics, such as how to suspend testing and revert to current-day operations, and training requirements. (POC: Savvy Verma)

NASA Researchers Hold Technical Interchange with South Korean Research Collaborators
May 1, 2015

Group photo of the TIM participants standing in front of building N210 at Ames
Technical interchange meeting participants

From April 28-29, 2015, NASA researchers and managers from the airport surface research area, the Airspace Technology Demonstration-2 project, and NASA Headquarters, held a technical interchange meeting with representatives from the Korea Agency for Infrastructure Technology Advancement (KAIA), the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), and Incheon International Airport Corporation. The meeting was held at NASA Ames Research Center, where the two parties discussed in detail the plans for collaborating on airport surface and terminal area research under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between NASA and KAIA in November 2014. The KAIA delegation provided briefings on Incheon Airport operations and the airspace and airport issues encountered in the Republic of Korea. The NASA team provided background and demonstrations of some of NASA's fast-time simulation and modeling capabilities. The teams discussed specific areas of research collaboration to advance NASA's surface research portfolio as well as provide insights into how KAIA can develop the simulation and research tools for addressing their own ATM challenges. Another meeting between technical team members is tentatively scheduled for the October/November timeframe. (POC: Yoon Jung)

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