Image of the ESTOL aircraft designed by the students at the Cal Poly (San Luis Obispo) Design Lab under the direction of NASA's Aeronautical Projects and Programs Office.
NASA's Aeronautical Projects and Program Office has created a prototype Extreme Short Take-Off and Landing (ESTOL) aircraft. Simultaneous Non-Interfering (SNI) operations would form a key aspect of this new aircraft's capability. In contrast to conventional jets, such operations would use tight simultaneous descending, decelerating, curved approaches and ascending, accelerating, curved departures.
An ESTOL type aircraft, operating within an SNI profile, could take advantage of under-used airport facilities, such as hub cargo areas or regional airports, by using runways shorter than 3,000 feet. (The typical commercial runway averages between 8,000 - 12,000 feet, the size necessary to accommodate large jets.) At hub airports, SNI approaches could maximize existing airspace by adding aircraft into the system, without adding system delays.
ESTOL researchers partnered with FutureFlight Central to simulate the prototype.
At NASA FutureFlight Central, the simulation engineers dynamically simulated the ESTOL prototype, modeling approaches and departures within the realistic hub environment of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and showing operational possibilities.
Using digital footage of the simulation, a short video was developed and shown as part of a keynote presentation at the November, 2002 International Powered-Lift Conference.
ESTOL researchers also identified the need for a software tool, which would optimize the tradeoffs between vehicle type, operations, and economic impact to the air traffic system.
FutureFlight Central's visualization capabilities coupled with a realistic DFW traffic simulation helped researchers conceptualize how an ESTOL aircraft could operate within the environment of a major hub airport.