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Grand Challenge Completes Internal Software-in-the-Loop Test for Development Test Flight Demonstrations
December 12, 2019

On December 4, 2019 the Grand Challenge (GC) Airspace Test Infrastructure (ATI) team conducted an internal software test as a first step in preparing for Grand Challenge Development Test (DT) Flight Demonstrations, scheduled for late summer 2020 at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) flight test range. The Grand Challenge DT is the first activity in a series with vehicle and airspace industry partners focused on establishing the certification requirements and standards needed for the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market to move forward.

The ATI team has developed a flight test system architecture to support airspace partners and vehicle partners in a variety of configurations. The system, predominantly a cloud-based infrastructure, will be able to integrate Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM)-inspired UAM Service Suppliers (USSs), live flight vehicle telemetry monitoring, and data collection required to enable a successful integrated DT flight demonstration. The internal software-in-the-loop test included a concrete demonstration of progress across two software teams (GC ATI and ATM-X UAM) along with a test of the first delivery of the first UAM core services build for flight test. The test demonstrated virtual traffic to emulate UAM aircraft flying in the first scenario planned for the GC, along with key infrastructure such as the discovery service and situational displays in the Airspace Operations Lab, which will serve as the primary execution center for the ATI team during the GC. The test also included an initial verification of an updated data collection system and validation of data persistence based on lessons learned from UTM’s Technology Capability Level 4 (TCL4). A follow up test is planned for December 17, 2019, where additional functionality will be explored in preparation for GC DT flight test activities.

POC: Shivanjli Sharma



TestBed and TAM showcased in New Jersey
December 4, 2019

Photo of the NASA ecoDemonstrator and TestBed team members at the National Aviation Research and Technology Park
NASA ecoDemonstrator and TestBed team members at the National Aviation Research and Technology Park

In coordination with the arrival of the 2019 Boeing Eco Demonstrator (ecoD) aircraft from Frankfurt, Germany to Atlantic City, New Jersey, TestBed and the Tailored Arrival Manager (TAM) were exhibited at the newly-founded National Aviation Research and Technology Park (NARTP) and the Atlantic City International Airport (ACY), both located near the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) William J. Hughes Technical Center (WJHTC). On November 21, 2019, the NARTP exhibit was visited by FAA managers and WJHTC employees, including WJHTC Director, Shelley Yak. TestBed presentations and software demos focused on the use of TestBed as a systems integration and simulation platform for validating air-traffic technologies and procedures, such as those required by TAM in support of ecoD 2020. The TAM and TestBed exhibits at the airport were also visited on the following day by groups of local high school students pursing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) studies as well as government and industry personnel with interest or involvement in ecoD, including the President and CEO of the Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA), Peter Dumont. Attendees also included members of the Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions, and Noise (CLEEN) consortium of FAA and industry partners, who showed considerable interest in TAM as a technology for enabling low energy descents in busy traffic conditions, supported by data communications and flight-deck integration.

The NASA TestBed and TAM personnel also visited the WJHTC on November 23, 2019, to observe portions of the ecoD 2019 flight demonstration as the Boeing aircraft flew a trans-continental flight from Atlantic City to Boeing Field (Washington). Initial testing involved pre-departure and en route scenarios in which trajectory options were delivered to the flight deck from the Tech Center’s Data Communications Avionics Lab. As the aircraft neared Boeing Field, a pre-defined path stretch route was data linked to the aircraft, along with a Required Time of Arrival constraint. This latter scenario supported the FAA’s plan to implement path-stretch technology stemming from NASA’s tech transfer of the Efficient Descent Advisor in 2012.

POC: Rich Coppenbarger and Arwa Aweiss



NASA ATD-2 Phase 3 Flight Operator Meeting
December 4, 2019

Photo of participants of the ATD-2 flight operator meeting.

NASA’s Airspace Technology Demonstration 2 (ATD-2) team hosted a flight operator meeting on November 19, 2019, which was designed to continue the process of developing real-time metrics for the flight operators to use during the ATD-2 Phase 3 evaluation in 2020. Currently, the ATD-2 system only projects the delay savings for the specific aircraft identified as a candidate for a reroute. The real-time metrics concepts that were presented at this meeting assess the prediction accuracy of the ATD-2 system for a specific time period and project aggregate delay savings for all aircraft that are impacted by a flight operator’s decision to submit a flight for a reroute. Both of these real-time metrics are anticipated to result in an increase of airline Trajectory Option Set (TOS) submissions in the 2020 Phase 3 evaluation. Several representatives from both American and Southwest airlines participated in the meeting.

The NASA ATD-2 team described the metrics calculations as well as potential methods to display the information to the flight operators in the operational environment. The meeting was an excellent forum for exchanging information and ideas regarding the objective of providing real time metric information. The flight operators concurred that the initial concepts presented by the NASA ATD-2 team were on target to meet their needs and provided some valuable feedback for potential enhancements. The NASA ATD-2 team will present an update at a follow-up development meeting scheduled for December 10, 2019.

POC: Greg Juro, Jeremy Coupe, Eric Chevalley



UAS in the NAS Project, Flight Test 6 VIP Day
December 4, 2019

Photo of the TigerShark. The sun is just rising in the background.
TigerShark before sunrise

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) project held a VIP day at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center on November 13, 2019. About 30 guests from NASA headquarters, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and industry partners joined this event. Mauricio Rivas, the UAS in the NAS project manager, along with Dr. Ed Waggoner, Integrated Aviation Systems Program (IASP) Director, welcomed the guests and gave a brief introduction to the project’s objectives. Flight Test 6 engineers and Detect-and-Avoid (DAA) project leads briefed the scope, plan, and objectives of this flight test. During the briefing, the audience’s attention was directed to the live TV broadcast of the ground control station display for the TigerShark pilots, the unmanned aircraft, and manned aircraft encounters during a full mission. Guests also visited the manned aircraft (KingAir 200) and TigerShark after landing.

POC: Gilbert Wu



US Patent Office Issues Research Patent
December 4, 2019

On November 12, 2019, the United States Patent and Trademarks Office issued Patent 10,475,34, titled, “Miles-in-Trail Passback Restrictions for Use in Air Traffic Management” to authors Dr. Kapil Sheth and Dr. Sebastian Gutierrez-Nolasco (employed by UC Santa Cruz then, now Crown Consulting, Inc.). The patent application was initially filed on October 8, 2015. Air traffic managers in the National Airspace System (NAS) regularly prescribe Miles-in-Trail (MIT) restrictions, a common traffic management initiative, to efficiently handle air traffic. Imposed MIT is the value of spacing required between aircraft flying along a certain path and it is used when downstream traffic congestion is anticipated. MITs may be implemented independently or in conjunction with other initiatives (e.g., a severe weather avoidance plan route or a playbook route, ground delay programs, etc.). This patent was issued for computation of MIT values passed back to upstream Centers for real-time implementation in dynamically changing actual traffic scenarios. The paper describing this technology is available at www.aviationsystems.arc.nasa.gov.

POC: Kapil Sheth



NASA ATD-2 Supports Capitol Hill Outreach Activities
December 4, 2019

Photo of Al Capps talking with a visitor during NASA's Flight Night.
ATD-2 Project Manager, Al Capps, meets with visitors at NASA's "Flight Night"

The NASA Airspace Technology Demonstration 2 (ATD-2) team hosted visits with several Congressional offices to discuss the benefits that the ongoing demonstration is bringing to their constituencies at a Capitol Hill outreach event on November 20, 2019. The ATD-2 team also participated in NASA’s “Flight Night” event which hosted approximately 375 Congressional staffers and 8 US Congressmembers. The ATD-2 outreach highlighted the strong partnerships between NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and industry, which has resulted in an integrated arrival, departure, and surface (IADS) concept demonstration with new system capabilities for complex National Airspace System (NAS) challenges.  An additional area of outreach was communicating ATD-2’s significant fuel savings benefits, reduced passenger time on the airport surface, reduced engine run time, and environmental benefits, such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Staff were very interested in the efforts by NASA and its partners, as well as savings seen to date and potential for additional savings as the program moves into additional airports nationwide through FAA’s Terminal Flight Data Manager (TFDM) program.

POC: Al Capps



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IN THE MEDIA
Meet NASA’s air taxi simulator
November 26, 2019
The Vertical Motion Simulator is featured on the Aerospace America website about how Silicon Valley tests aim to assess passenger motion sickness.
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NASA Showcases Benefits of Air Traffic Management Tools
October 23, 2019
ATD-2 Project work is featured on NASA.gov
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Getting to the moon takes practice — on a giant machine in Mountain View
June 4, 2019
Peter Fimrite from the San Francisco Chronicle reports on NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine's visit to the Vertical Motion Simulator and its role in the next human trip to the moon.
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Big City Life Awaits Drones in Final Year of NASA Research
May 20, 2019
From NASA Public Affairs.
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NASA Invites Media to Watch Drone Traffic Management Testing
May 16, 2019
NASA Press Release.
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How NASA makes your airplane flights better than ever
September 28, 2018
Interesting article on NASA Aeronautics from CNET.
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Transportation engineer involved in drone traffic management
June 1, 2018
Debra Werner of Aerospace America interviews Arwa Aweiss, Flight Test Director for NASA's UTM Project.
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