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Official NASA Communication 95-198

Official NASA Communication 95-198

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Published by: NASAdocuments on Oct 06, 2007
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Don Nolan-ProxmireHeadquarters, Washington, DC November 2, 1995(Phone: 202-358-1983)Mike MewhinneyAmes Research Center, Mountain View, CA(Phone: 415-604-3937)Jeffrey ThalFederal Aviation Administration, Washington, DC(Phone: 202-267-7344)RELEASE: 95-198 NASA/FAA TESTING NEW AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TOOLS AT DENVERAIRPORT NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration have beenfield testing a new generation of tools at Denver'sInternational Airport that will reduce delays and airtraffic controller workload, and increase fuel efficiencyfor airplanes.Called the Descent Advisor (DA), the device is beingtested at the airport's air route traffic control center.The DA, a component of a larger effort known as CTAS (forCenter-TRACON Automation System), is one of three softwaretools designed to improve the efficiency of air trafficoperations."This is a significant milestone in the development of highly-capable decision-support software for air trafficcontrollers," said Dr. George Donohue, FAA's AssociateAdministrator for research and acquisitions.When implemented, CTAS will provide accurate routeprojections for the efficient sequencing of aircraft asthey transition from en route to terminal airspace,identify potential aircraft conflicts and present optionsfor resolving them, and develop a display and interface tothe system for controllers. CTAS is under development atthe Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA, in cooperationwith the FAA.
 The tests of the DA software involve more than 200commercial flights arriving at Denver under a wide varietyof weather, traffic and delay conditions. Tests alsoinclude the use of an air/ground datalink system to improvecoordination between participating flights and the CTASsystem by exchanging key data to improve both systems.-more--2-Tests with both jet transport and turboprop commuteraircraft are being conducted during selected trafficperiods of 60-90 minutes duration, two to three times perday, five days per week.The software assists air traffic controllers byproviding them with time and location data for theefficient sequencing and separation of traffic in en routeairspace as they near their destination airport. Forflights arriving in high density terminal areas such asDenver, the software provides proposed routes for fuel-efficient descents that accurately meet scheduled times of arrival. As part of CTAS, the software will complement otherkey technologies, such as datalink and advanced cockpitautomation, to deliver maximum benefits to the aircraftoperators.ÒPreliminary results are very good, with arrival timeaccuracy routinely within 20 seconds and often within 10.This accuracy was based on the issuance of a singleclearance in cruise, nominally 25 miles prior to descent,for a trajectory-descent projection of about 15 minutes,Ósaid Steven Green, an Ames aerospace engineer and NASAÕsDescent Advisor project manager.Currently, air traffic controllers routinely achievean arrival time accuracy of about one minute using manualtechniques. DA's goal is to reduce arrival time predictionaccuracy to 20 seconds or less. This level of accuracywill improve traffic management sequencing and more thandouble the useful range of computer conflict prediction.

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