NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Follow this link to skip to the main content
+ Visit
+ Contact NASA

+ Home
Aviation Systems
Search Aviation Systems

NASA SimLabs News
Volume 8, Issue 1

January 2008
1. NASA Paper Wins Award

"Changes in Roles/Responsibilities of Air Traffic Control Under Precision Taxiing" was the subject of a study in 2007, for which NASA SimLabs Virtual Airspace Simulation Technology (VAST) project provided a research platform.

A paper reporting the results was given at the 26th Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC) held October 21-15, 2007 in Dallas, Texas. The authors received two best paper awards in the Avionics Design track and the Human Factors session. The study was a collaboration between NASA and Optimal Synthesis, Inc.

The study investigated the changes in roles and responsibilities for tower controllers brought about by the introduction of future automation to achieve precision taxiing. Precision taxiing is a surface concept in which taxi clearances contain precisely timed taxi routes.

The study was conducted in two parts: (1) the current areas of responsibility were used to identify any issues that arose due to the introduction of increased surface traffic and automation in the tower, and (2) new areas of responsibility in coordination with the automation technology were tested.

Workload chart

Figure 1: Workload by Phase and Position

The study results showed that the introduction of automation for precision taxiing increases the overall workload for air traffic controllers. However, automation combined with redesigning areas of responsibility can help redistribute workload. As the Next Generation Air Transportation System moves from planning to implementation, changes in roles of automation and human operators will need to be considered when designing airport traffic control procedures.

+ Back to Top
2. Crew Exploration Vehicle Handling Qualities Experiment at Ames' Vertical Motion Simulator

SimLabs continues to examine critical issues related to space vehicle handling qualities in support of NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD). Handling qualities describe the ease and precision with which a pilot can execute a flying task and are affected by numerous issues, including vehicle response, guidance cues, and inceptors.

In this study, researchers focused on the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), with specific emphasis on the relationship of the control system response to control power. Additionally, the effects of camera delay during docking were examined.

A Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS) cab has been customized to resemble the cockpit of a generic space capsule, representative of the CEV. In-house graphics specialists created a visual database of the International Space Station that depicts the new docking mechanism to be utilized by the CEV, known as the “Low Impact Docking System,” or "LIDS" (Figure 2).

Test subjects—including current and former astronauts and NASA test pilots—flew several docking scenarios wherein the vehicle’s translational control system was varied (continuous jets, pulse jets, proportional, or discrete) and combined with either zero, low, or high cross-axis coupling. Such coupling means that the commanded thrust vector could produce unintended motion effects.

It is anticipated that the CEV will have a display in the cockpit which shows the centerline camera view during docking. Super-imposed guidance aids should make the docking task easier (Figure 3). However, excessive delay of the camera feed could be detrimental to the operation. Researchers experimented with delays of up to several seconds.

At the end of each simulation run, pilots provided Cooper-Harper ratings and Task Load Index ratings. Researchers are evaluating the data and will use their findings to provide design guidelines to NASA's Exploration Science Mission Directorate, ultimately benefiting the space vehicle program for several generations to come.

+ Back to Top
3. Electronic Flight Bags for the 747

Have you ever been in an airport and seen commercial pilots carrying a large rectangular briefcase? For years that is how pilots have had to transport all the company and FAA paperwork required to operate their aircraft.

One of the newest innovations to commercial flight decks is the Electronic Flight Bag or EFB. These are electronic devices that provide all the information that was in those leather bags and much more.

The Crew Vehicle Systems Research Facility, in coordination with the Human Factors Research Division at Ames, is procuring EFBs for installation in the B747-400 simulator. EFBs allow electronic access to checklists, documents, navigational charts and flight performance information including real time weather updates.

Inclusion of the EFBs in the B747-400 will ensure the simulator conforms to current airline flight decks for the highest fidelity possible. In addition, EFBs will provide a platform for researchers to investigate human interaction with technology and further utilization of the device.

+ Back to Top
4. Thinking of Doing Business with NASA SimLabs

For more information on what we can do for your needs, contact:

Thomas Alderete, Assistant Division Chief for Simulation Facilities


Nancy Dorighi, SimLabs Business Development


Bimal Aponso, SimLabs Branch Chief


+ Back to Top
FirstGov - Your First Click to the US Government
+ Freedom of Information Act
+ Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
+ The President's Management Agenda
+ NASA Privacy Statement, Disclaimer,
and Accessibility Certification

+ Inspector General Hotline
+ Equal Employment Opportunity Data Posted Pursuant
to the No Fear Act

+ Information-Dissemination Priorities and Inventories
+ NASA Privacy Statement
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA Official:
Last Updated: November 7, 2018

+ Contact Us
+ About This Site

+ Download Acrobat Reader