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Vertical Motion Simulator Host Computer Upgrade Project
September 16, 2020

Photo showing the top view of the Vertical Motion Simulator and its motion platform.

The Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS) Host Upgrade Project is on schedule for its October 31, 2020 completion date after six years of intermittent development efforts. The Host computer is the brain of the Vertical Motion Simulator and runs the simulated vehicle math model, sends the acceleration commands to the motion system, and provides vehicle state data to the graphics computers. The previous host computer was a DEC Alpha which was first introduced in 1992. The specialized real-time host software was designed around the obsolete DEC Alpha Open Virtual Memory System (also “VMS”) operating system, which could not be easily ported to a modern computer system. The new Host computer is a Linux-based system that required development of new real-time software to work with the Vertical Motion Simulator. The new software retains key features from the old Host system but takes advantage of new capabilities available with modern multicore processors. The Host Upgrade Project also includes integrating new input/output (I/O) hardware that allows the Host computer to communicate with the simulator hardware. During the month of October, SimLabs engineers will be performing acceptance testing that will verify that the Host computer can work properly with the simulator and associated hardware. With the completion of the acceptance testing, the Vertical Motion Simulator will be better able to support computationally intensive experiments, such as the Artemis Human Landing System and Advanced Air Mobility vehicle simulations.

POC: Steve Beard

Increasingly Automated Air Cargo Operations (IAACO) “Tabletop” Workshop
September 16, 2020

The IAACO is a new subproject under the Air Traffic Management Exploration (ATM-X) project that supports concept development of remotely piloted, mid-size, fixed-wing regional air cargo flight operations between small Class D, E, or G airports, via controlled and uncontrolled airspaces. In the week of August 24, 2020, the IAACO team successfully completed the first focused workshop (i.e., “tabletop” session) with nine subject matter experts (SMEs). Due to the COVID-19 teleworking restriction, the session was conducted entirely virtually. The nine SMEs represented two former en route air traffic controllers (ATCs), three former terminal area ATCs, one former airport tower controller, two current military Ground Station Operators (GSOs) of MQ-9 (a remotely piloted vehicle), and one current commercial pilot. The tabletop discussion process had been carefully structured following the bow-tie analysis model framework, which is a method widely utilized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Eurocontrol, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), to identify safety hazards and proposed mitigations. The workshop included participant training on the proposed IAACO concept, and the IAACO human-factors researchers led the tabletop discussions related to: 1) latencies in communication and vehicle control, 2) Detect and Avoid (DAA) technology, 3) radio or command and control (C2) Link System failures, and 4) terminal airspace operations at towered and non-towered airports. The participants used cognitive walk-throughs to evaluate representative use cases. The exit survey results showed that the participants rated their virtual tabletop experiences mostly positively. The IAACO team has also compiled a list of lessons learned from this first virtual tabletop activity. The hazards and mitigations identified through this tabletop activity will be used to formulate NASA human-in-the-loop simulation research questions and develop an IAACO Concept of Operations.

POC: Miwa Hayashi

ATD-2 Hardware and Displays Fully Deployed at Envoy Air
September 16, 2020

This image shows a map highlighting the locations of NTX, DFW, and Envoy Air's headquarters in close proximity to each other in the Dallas, Texas area. DFW is in the middle, Envoy is in the upper-right, and NTX is in the lower-left of the image. A blue line connects DFW with NTX and another connects DFW with Envoy.
This map shows the physical locations of NTX, DFW, and Envoy’s headquarters. The blue line is the datalink path which connects Envoy to NTX.

In support of the Airspace Technology Demonstration 2 (ATD-2) subproject Phase 3, personnel at the NASA North Texas (NTX) Research Station deployed an ATD-2 system at the headquarters of Envoy Air. Envoy operates the regional aircraft fleet for American Airlines, which makes up about 22% of the total American Airlines presence at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and 17% of overall operations at DFW. The addition of Envoy to the ATD-2 Phase 3 data collection will significantly increase the number of data points collected during the test and allow analysis of how the advisory tools impact the operations of regional carriers. Under normal conditions, the NTX team would have installed the ATD-2 equipment at Envoy, but given COVID-19 operating conditions, the NTX team instead created a set of instructions and a kit with all the hardware Envoy personnel needed to make a secure, wireless network connection to the NTX facility via another NASA-managed secure connection at DFW Airport. Envoy verified that their ATD-2 displays are properly operating. Envoy will complete training and familiarization with the tool before spring storms arrive.

POC:Keenan Roach

Envoy mounting the network dish to the roof of their building.

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Last Updated: September 26, 2020

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