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Air Traffic Management Researchers
& Decision-Making
Testing a Critical Next Generation System Issue

Sec'y Mineta Talks NexGen to World Travel & Tourism Leaders

Example of a tool used to analyzing airport capacity. Proper testing is critical to NGATS planning. Credit: Luciad

Making critical decisions on transforming the air traffic management system is not an easy task, and must be based on solid research and testing to ensure that changes truly result in improvements to the system. But what does "solid" mean? When the Next Generation System is in place, how will decisions have been made on vital issues, such as aircraft separation, automated routing, or jet noise? Through results achieved through simulated testing? Or those that passed a "real world" try-out?

The answer: When the Next Generation System becomes operational, all of the changes in the system will have been validated through high-fidelity modeling and simulation and eventually through flight operational demonstrations to confirm that sufficient benefits will accrue to justify the investment, according to JPDO planners.

The weighty issue of testing was raised in the latest Air Traffic Control Quarterly, which published the top papers from the US/Europe Seminars on Air Traffic Management Research and Development held last year. Commented Air Traffic Control Quarterly Guest Editor Jeffery A. Schroeder, "This is a matter requiring urgent consideration and careful thought if the objectives of a Next Generation System are to be met in a timely manner."

The Air Traffic Control Association has generously shared the following abstracts from these papers.

Safety Analysis for Advanced Separation Concepts, by J.W. Andrews, H. Erzberger, and J.D. Welch.
A preliminary, fault-tree analysis was performed on a proposed method for using automation, instead of human controllers, to provide separation assurance in certain en route airspace. The combined risk of the four fault types examined was estimated to be 1.8E-12 per hour, which was considerably below the target design of 1.0E-9 per hour.

Human Factors Implications of Continuous Descent Approach Procedures
for Noise Abatement
, by H.J. Davison Reynolds, T.G. Reynolds, and R.J. Hansman.
In this paper, it was found that predicting separation for a mix of decelerating and constant-speed aircraft might increase controller workload, which could result in offsetting throughput reductions. An analysis and experiment led to a suggestion of standardizing the deceleration profiles so that the associated intent could ease controller workload.

Simulation of Terminal-Area Flight Management System Arrivals
with Airborne Spacing
, by T.J. Callantine, P.U. Lee, J. S. Mercer, E.A. Palmer, and T. Prevot.
A simulation compared performance and workload differences among the conditions in which the cockpit or the ground were aided with tools to maintain spacing for arrivals on flight management
system routes. Spacing accuracy improved when spacing tasks were delegated to the equipped cockpits. Controllers rated their workload higher when they delegated spacing tasks to the aircraft versus when they did not; however, it was suggested that additional tool maturity might allow for increased controller acceptance of airborne spacing.

Quantifying Convective Delay Reduction Benefits for Air Traffic Management Systems, by J.E. Evans, M. Robinson, and S. Allan.
This paper presents the difficulties that have arisen to date on measuring how useful new operational weather systems have been in reducing flight delays. Based on the experience gained, recommendations to evaluate future weather system benefits include interviewing operational users followed by detailed case analyses, analyzing flight tracks before and after system installation, and normalizing delay statistics with a convective weather metric.

The Use of Panel Data Analysis Techniques in Airspace Capacity Estimation, by A. Majumdar, W.Y. Ochieng, G. McAuley, J.M. Lenzi, and C. Lepadatu.
A workload model was derived from simulation data in two dissimilar airspace regions using a cross-sectional time-series analysis. Key components in the model were developed from interviews with controllers. It was found that variables that best predict controller workload are different during peak traffic hours than during non-peak traffic hours.

Shared Situational Awareness: Big Benefits to National Defense and Security

JPDO and NGATS Testify on Capitol Hill
SSA: the right information to the right person at the right time.

NGATS Communications Director Karl Grundmann spoke to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)'s Air Traffic Management Committee in Kiev, Ukraine on May 10-12. His message: the Next Generation System will provide "big picture" airspace information needed to defend our nation.

Grundmann introduced the gathering to NGATS, and focused on one of its key capabilities: Networked Enabled Access and Shared Situational Awareness. "The Next Generation System will be network-centric, leveraging the abilities of a Web-based network so we can freely share information for decision-making. We can get the right information to the right person at the right time. Whether it's FAA or DoD, everyone gets the entire picture," he told the audience.

Network Enabled Operations provides big benefits to national defense and security. He cited:

JPDO thanks ATCA for providing these abstracts, and look forward to sharing it with JPDO web site visitors in the future. Subscriptions to the Air Traffic Control Quarterly are available here.

* Precise, real-time diagnosis of risk;
* Continued civilian access to airspace while mobilizing defense activities;
* Major savings to DoD because of reduced need for costly combat patrols;
* Better support for military missions by commercial carriers; and
* Globalization of standards, procedures and operations, which can reduce
   necessary U.S. military investments needed to ensure military access to
   international airspace.

To see the entire briefing, click here.

Travel and Tourism Merchants Introduced to NGATS

The JPDO team at the TIA Int'l Pow Wow. From l to r: Al Prest, Karl Grundmann, and Nestor Pylypec.

According to the Travel Industry Association of America, travel and tourism generates $1.3 trillion in economic activity in the U.S. each year. For that reason, changes in air transportation matter to leaders in the travel industry. Those who participated in the TIA International Pow Wow on May 6-10 in Orlando, Florida had the opportunity to learn more about the Next Generation System.

Generally, the TIA International Pow Wow is reserved for industry buyers and sellers. Through a special arrangement, NGATS was able to display its booth at the event, and was visited by thousands - including the National Chair of TIA, Jay Rasulo, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and Roger Dow, President and CEO of TIA, who were briefed on NGATS by JPDO Communications Director Karl Grundmann.

NGATS Debuts in the NY Times

The Next Generation Air Transportation System was featured in the New York Times in its coverage last month of the World Travel and Tourism Council's Annual Global Travel & Tourism Summit.

The event attracted government leaders and the world's top executives in the travel and tourism industry who heard from Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, who discussed the U.S. government's initiative and how to maintain accessibility while ensuring security for travelers. New York Times business traveler columnist Joe Sharkey wrote on April 25:

"The government is working to address the growing demand for air travel while improving security, partly with the creation of a technology-based travel system called NextGen,' said Norman Y. Mineta, Secretary of Transportation. The system is still on the drawing boards.

Imagine how much more attractive travel will be in a future with virtually no flight delays, where a pilot can choose the most direct route around weather and congestion, saving hours of time and millions of gallons of jet fuel.

I see the NextGen initiative as having greater implications for travel tourism and commerce than any other transportation project undertaken by the United States government since creating the Interstate Highway System in 1956."

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