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Redesigning Air Traffic Control: 

Redesigning Air Traffic Control Workshop Session 2: CTAS and Direct-To Functionality September 28, 2000 Michelle Eshow NASA Ames Research Center meshow@lcs.mit.edu / meshow@arc.nasa.gov Dr. Heinz Erzberger

CTAS Background: 

CTAS Background CTAS: Center-TRACON Automation System a suite of decision support tools for ATC concept started at NASA in late 80’s; supported by FAA since 1991 first 2 tools (TMA, pFAST) field tested at DFW in 1997; now being deployed by FAA and its contractors under FAA “Free Flight Phase 1” program Running at Minn., Denver; coming to LAX, ATL, STL, MIA, SFO FAA/NASA continue to run NASA software version at DFW/ZFW to refine current tools, develop future products CTAS represents a rare success in development and tech transfer of usable, effective automation for ATC

CTAS Tools: 

CTAS Tools Traffic Management Advisor (TMA) schedules aircraft arriving at major airports (from Center into TRACON) provides flow viz aids to TMC’s at Center and TRACON provides STA and current delay to Center sector controllers Passive Final Approach Spacing Tool (pFAST) determines optimum runway for each arriving aircraft determines landing sequence for all aircraft on a runway provides runway and sequence to TRACON controllers Collaborative Arrival Planner (CAP) securely provides CTAS data to airlines for use in near-term planning

CTAS Tools: 

CTAS Tools Direct-To (D2) looks for time-saving shortcuts in aircraft flight plan routes Active FAST (aFAST) adds graphical turn and speed advisories to pFAST to help controllers achieve runway assignment and sequencing Multi-Center TMA (McTMA) extends TMA to handle the Northeast corridor in which PHL TRACON borders NY and Washington Centers and arrival planning must start in Cleveland Center …plus others of less significance or not in active development

CTAS Design Philosophy: 

CTAS Design Philosophy Automation should serve the human (controller, pilot, dispatcher,…) and not vice versa enhance controller’s perception of traffic situation complement controller skills achieve well defined objectives be designed with controllers as members of design team be refined and validated in field tests

Technical Approach: 

Technical Approach Concept Definition Initial Software Adaptation for Target Site Preparation for Operational Test Operational Test Engineers Computer Scientists Human Factors Experts Local Controllers, Pilots Dispatchers On-site Controllers Participating Airlines System Development Team (SDT) Real-time Simulation Shadowing Controller and Pilot involvement Development Progress Fast-time Simulation Analysis Assessment Team Human Factors

Internal Development Process: 

Internal Development Process Functional requirements development Specification of: Algorithms Computer-human interface External interface Data collection Etc. Passive testing with live data Controller-in-loop simulation Field testing Software Design, Development Validation & Verification Release Daily use Research Groups (AFA, AFC) Development Group (AFD) Testing

Advantages of Approach: 

Advantages of Approach Detailed requirements and design evolve from knowledge of actual operations Forces a “human-centered automation” design philosophy Assures air traffic controller and airline involvement throughout design process Forces concurrent design of computer human interface and training program Leads to early products


TMA at Fort Worth Center FAST at DFW TRACON CTAS at DFW/ZFW

Direct-To Origins: 

Direct-To Origins Potential of a Direct-To Tool was discovered unexpectedly during field tests of CTAS Conflict Probe / Trial Planning functions at Denver Center (Sept. 97) and was confirmed at Fort Worth Center (Nov. 98) At both Centers, controllers pointed out a preferred use for the Trial Planning function: searching for and evaluating direct routes that are conflict free The Direct-To Tool was built to automate search for and execution of direct route trajectories

Direct-To Tool: 

Direct-To Tool Direct-To identifies aircraft that can save at least one minute by flying direct to a down-stream fix on their route of flight. Direct-To list on controller’s display shows eligible aircraft, time savings, direct-to fixes, and conflict status. Point-and-click Trial Planner allows controllers to easily display, modify, and send Direct-To flight plan amendments into the Host computer. Potential savings in flying time for Ft. Worth Center airspace is approximately 1,800 minutes per day or about 2.5 minutes per Direct-To clearance advisory.

Trial-Planning a Direct-To Advisory: 

Trial-Planning a Direct-To Advisory

Direct-To Functions: 

Direct-To Functions Predict 4-Dimensional trajectories for all tracked aircraft every track update (12 seconds) uses wind and aircraft performance data Probe all trajectories for conflicts and display results Probe all non-arrival trajectories to search for time-saving shortcuts, and display results Trial Planner: modify aircraft clearances without affecting other controller displays; changes can be rejected easily; mouse-driven to speed response to controller inputs, trial plan trajectories are re-computed and re-analyzed every second if controller accepts new flight plan, it can be sent back to Host as an amendment

Additional Functions: 

Additional Functions Can generate arrival trajectories to meet the TMA STA, and extract controller advisories to achieve that trajectory Can predict loading of sectors (aka dynamic density) Spacing Tool to assist miles-in-trail en-route metering Numerous data collection options

Direct-To Field Test (10/2000): 

Direct-To Field Test (10/2000) Direct-To runs on auxiliary flat panel displays at 3 ZFW sector positions Controller operates Direct-To primarily with mouse. Keyboard for backup and engineering set up Articulated arm facilitates configuration changes for experiment phases and non test periods NASA observer answers questions, takes notes

Direct-To Test Setup: 

Direct-To Test Setup

Test Installation: 

Test Installation

Direct-To Plans: 

Direct-To Plans Validate concept in field test next month Continue to refine software and add features (eg, routing around special use airspace) Continue tech transfer to FAA Award contract to re-implement display on “R” and “D” side of sector workstations Redesign core algorithmic component (profile_selector_cntr) to achieve more reliable and maintainable software

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