Research Focus

:: Air Traffic Management and Control
:: System Performance Studies and Metrics
:: Aviation Economics and Policy

Project List

:: Best-Equipped, Best-Served
:: NAS Service Expectations
:: Wake Vortex Research
:: ADSIM Model

Research: Air Traffic Management and Control


Project Summaries:

The following are the NEXTOR II research projects in the area of Air Traffic Management and Control:

User Equipage: New TFM Procedures and Investment Incentives

Sponsor: Air Traffic Organization, Systems Operations Programs

Participants: GRA, Inc., MIT, University of Maryland

Duration: 9/2010 – 12/2011

A major challenge in achieving the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is insuring that appropriate investments in new technologies are made on both the part of all relevant stakeholders. The general concept of Best-Equipped, Best-Served (BEBS) directs immediate operational benefits to flight operators when equipped aircraft of brought into service.

Under this project, new resource allocation methods were developed for ground delay program planning under a scenario in which equipped aircraft provided access to additional arrival capacity during reduced visibility conditions. The specific case study considered involved the introduction of GBAS-equipped aircraft at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). The research explored three alternate methods for directing benefits to equipped aircraft. These differed in the manner in which secondary benefits were handled and also the degree to which the delay performance achieved by non-equipped aircraft might be degraded. This work not only resulted in new resource allocation methods but also defined and investigated relevant policy questions.

A paper summarizing this work was presented at the 9th USA/Europe Air Traffic Management R&D Seminar in Berlin in June, 2011and won the Best Paper Award in Economics and Policy.

Distributed Mechanisms for Determining NAS-Wide Service Level Expectations

Sponsor: Air Traffic Organization, System Operations Services

Participants: University of Maryland, MIT, University of California, Berkeley

Duration: 3/2010-present

An important objective of future air traffic management systems is to support airlines’ business objectives, subject to ensuring safety and security. The Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) initiative in the U.S. has transformed in fundamental ways the manner in which decision support system are designed to support air traffic flow management. However, at the strategic level CDM largely consists of a series of unstructured strategic planning teleconn’s. The goal of this research is to develop a formal mechanism for allowing the flight operators to collaborate in providing strategic advice to the FAA regarding the design of traffic management initiatives. The approaches considered seek to operationalize NextGen goal of a performance-based air traffic management system.

The research considered several approaches for collecting inputs from flight operators in a systematic way and for combining these inputs into performance goals for traffic management initiatives. These include variants of averaging, voting and ranking mechanisms. These were evaluated along multiple criteria including Pareto optimality, user profitability, system optimality, equity, and truthfulness of user inputs. A game-theoretic approach to examine the potential for strategic (gaming) behavior by airlines. Based on this work voting-based mechanism were shown to have the most promise.

A mechanism was designed and a prototype system developed. This mechanism is based on the newly developed majority judgment voting procedure. Simulation experiments have shown the mechanism to be computationally and operationally efficient and highly effective at achieving consensus solutions. Refinement of the various system components is on-going and human-in-the-loop experiments are planned.

Wake Vortex Research: Phase 3

Sponsor: FAA

Participants: Virginia Tech, MIT and George Mason

In Phases 1 and 2 of this project (under NEXTOR 1), we developed model to quantify wake vortex potential encounters and studied new concepts of operations where wake vortices could be a limiting factor to airport and airspace capacity. Phase 3 of this project is developing mature wake vortex analysis tools to allow FAA and its contractors to study potential implications of wakes in future concepts of operations in the NAS.

Specifically, Virginia Tech has developed an Enhanced Wake Encounter Model (EWEM) to predict potential wake encounters under existing operations and future scenarios. The EWEM model is going through a series of refinements in Phase 3 to account for wind conditions and more realistic wake envelopes developed with the most recent NASA APA suite of models. Both GMU and Virginia Tech models will be merged into a toolset that can be distributed to various FAA organizations and contractors (like CSSI) to perform analyses of future NextGen airport operational scenarios.

This model will be used by NASA and FAA to include wake vortex a as an airport and airspace constraint.

ADSIM + Model Validation

Sponsor: Air Traffic Organization

Participants: Virginia Tech

The ADSIM model is a general-purpose airport capacity and delay model developed by the FAA Technical Center. ADSIM Plus is a new version of the model developed under sponsorship of FAA ATO NextGen Systems Analysis to make the model suitable to study future concepts of operations. The new model has a well-developed GUI and two modes of operation. Virginia Tech is studying the model to advise FAA on ways to simplify the model inputs using existing databases and improved algorithms. The Virginia Tech effort is also validating the results of the model for consistency with other simulation and modeling tools.

The results of this effort will provide the FAA with recommendation to upgrade the ADSIM Plus model and simplify the input data entry effort. This will make the model more usable for FAA internal studies and eventually provide airport planers with a powerful tool to estimate airport capacity and delays at airports considering future NextGen concepts.