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Air Traffic Management (ATM) Test Bed

The Air Traffic Management (ATM) Test Bed is an inter-connected air traffic simulation test capability being developed by NASA to help accelerate the introduction of advanced technologies in the National Airspace System (NAS). The Test Bed will be used by the nation’s ATM community, consisting of government, industry, and academic research and development experts. The ATM Test Bed’s core purpose is to enable realistic simulations of current and proposed future air traffic concepts for the nation’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) and beyond. The principal concepts to be simulated include origin-to-destination, trajectory-based operations, widespread integration of novel vehicles and operations such as unmanned vehicles, and real-time safety assurance technologies to enable autonomous operations.

This screenshot shows an example of a shadow-mode simulation of a flight for its comparison with a live flight.
This screenshot shows an example of a shadow-mode simulation of a flight for its comparison with a live flight. The image shows a path and location of a live flight, a simulated flight location, and a predicted location for the flight an hour into the future.

The ATM community is developing new concepts and technologies to address the needs of the NextGen Air Transportation System to increase the capacity of airspace, reduce delays, and reduce the cost of ATM operations. However, the introduction of these advances into the NAS is currently gradual and evolutionary, and targets limited parts of the airspace in order to reduce risk in integration and transition with the existing system. Using the ATM Test Bed, NASA aims to accelerate the NAS transformation by enabling the sophisticated simulation and evaluation of multiple, integrated technologies, testing NAS-wide operational solutions. This approach helps to convincingly demonstrate potential benefits and concept feasibility.

Current simulation evaluation is laborious and limited. Researchers and developers create limited air traffic scenarios based on actual NAS operations with difficulty reproducing the same conditions when testing competing concepts. The ATM Test Bed enables the rapid, repeatable creation of sophisticated, end-to-end transportation conditions, and enabling the mixture of live and virtual simulation assets in the evaluation. For example, while a real aircraft flies, a simulated flight could be created to evaluate the performance of the simulated flight and the interaction between the test vehicles. The ATM Test Bed provides the “what-if” capability for air traffic management and operator decision support based on comprehensive real-time data feeds.

Screenshot of the Test Bed's drag-and-drop graphical tool.
The ATM Test Bed features a web-accessible drag-and-drop graphical tool for designing a simulation from existing or new plug-and-play blocks representing shareable community technologies and tools.

This image represents a potential simulation using the test bed, using various facilities and users.
This image represents a potential simulation using the ATM Test Bed that enables sharing of technologies and tools from various facilities and users.

This image shows the ted bed's high-level architecture.
The Test Bed enables a standardized communication service for distributed plug-and-play ATM community technologies to allow sharing of tools and collaborative simulations.

Highlights of the ATM Test Bed

  • Reduces the time to test concepts, technologies, and their interactions, interoperability, and integration by providing shared operational historical or live data, operational tools, remote access, and the community’s existing simulation tools
  • Improves understanding of interactions among various concepts, algorithms, human-automation and air-ground architectures, and technologies to identify benefits and feasibility at the NAS level
  • Enables assessment of large-scale contingency operation alternatives using shadow-mode simulation
  • Enables uncertainty assessment

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ATM-X TestBed Completes IT-Cybersecurity Authorization to Operate
December 16, 2020
The Air Traffic Management Exploration (ATM-X) Project’s TestBed completed the approval process for IT/Cybersecurity Authorization to Operate (ATO) in December 2020.
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ATM TestBed Training
August 26, 2020
The Aviation Systems Division’s Air Traffic Management (ATM) TestBed team conducted an online two-day training, for 20 participants, organized by the Federal Aviation Administration’s William J. Hughes Technical Center (WJHTC), August 18-19, 2020.
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ATAC TestBed Transition Model and Tradeoff Study
July 15, 2020
ATAC completed an analysis on the TestBed Transition Model Trade-off and provided a final briefing to line and project managers at NASA Ames and Langley Research Centers, on July 10, 2020.
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TestBed and TAM showcased in New Jersey
December 4, 2019
In coordination with the arrival of the 2019 Boeing Eco Demonstrator (ecoD) aircraft from Frankfurt, Germany to Atlantic City, New Jersey, TestBed and the Tailored Arrival Manager (TAM) were exhibited at the newly-founded National Aviation Research and Technology Park (NARTP) and the Atlantic City International Airport (ACY).
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TestBed Demonstration to Advanced Information Systems Technology Program at Goddard Space Flight Center
November 21, 2019
The TestBed Sub-Project Manager and Technical Lead gave a presentation of the TestBed Sub-Project to Dr. Jacqueline Lemoigne-Stewart, head of the New Observing Systems (NOS) area within the Advanced Information Systems Technology Program at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and her team.
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Shakedown Flight Simulation with FAA in Preparation for ecoDemonstrator 2020 Trials
July 11, 2019
On July 2, 2019, an initial piloted, shakedown simulation was successfully completed between the NASA Testbed and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) William J. Hughes Technical Center (WJHTC) Cockpit Simulation facility (CSF).
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UTM-Testbed Integration
May 1, 2019
The Air Traffic Management Exploration (ATM-X) urban air mobility (UAM) sub-project achieved a significant technical accomplishment in its development of the UAM Grand Challenge (GC) airspace management backbone.
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NASA Fact Sheet
Download the NASA Fact Sheet for ATM Test Bed.
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Last Updated: June 3, 2021

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