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DIRECT-TO TOOL
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The Problem
  • Rather than being able to fly the most efficient route to a destination, aircraft operators in today's air traffic control system are usually constrained to follow established airways that are often comprised of inefficient route segments.
  • Current air traffic control user interface inefficiencies inhibit controllers from issuing user preferred routes, even under light traffic conditions.
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The Solution is the Direct-To Tool

Screenshot of the Direct-To Planview Graphical User Interface. Click on the D-link for a detailed description.
D (Click image to enlarge.)
  • Direct-To identifies aircraft that can save at least one minute by flying direct to a down-stream fix on their route of flight.
  • A Direct-To list on the controller's display shows eligible aircraft, time savings, direct-to fixes, and conflict status.
  • The point-and-click Trial Planner allows controllers to easily display, modify, or accept Direct-To flight plan amendments.
  • Acceptance of the Direct-To advisory automatically sends a "6-7-10" flight plan amendment to the Host computer.
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Direct-To Features
  • Time and fuel saving direct routes are displayed as advisories to controllers in real time.
  • Direct-To advisories are probed for conflicts with expanded separation criteria.
  • The point-and-click interface keeps the controller's eyes on the traffic display and eliminates keyboard entries for route amendments.
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Direct-To Success
  • Potential savings in flying time for Fort Worth Center airspace is approximately 1,800 minutes per day or about 2.5 minutes per aircraft.
  • Over 35 controllers from 9 different Air Route Control Centers participated in the development, simulation, and field testing of the CTAS Trial Planner which forms the basis for the Direct-To interface.
  • Controllers pointed out a preferred use of the Trial Planner: Searching for and evaluating conflict free direct routes.
Photo showing Fort Worth Center controllers using the Direct-To Tool.
Direct-To Tool at Fort Worth Center

Photo showing controllers using the Direct-To Tool.
Direct-To on Radar Controller Display, FAA Technical Center

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MULTIMEDIA
Direct-To on the Radio
KCBS anchor, Jeff Bell, interviews Direct-To inventor, Dave McNally. These interviews aired on KCBS AM 740 on November 14, 2010.
+ Listen to Interview 1
+ Listen to Interview 2
LATEST NEWS
September 2, 2010
Direct-To Clearances Found to be Robust to Traffic Management Initiatives
Air traffic managers and airline operations personnel have in the past expressed concerns that automated "direct-to" clearances (route shortcuts) may routinely conflict with arrival traffic management initiatives, thus undercutting the benefit case for direct-to clearances. However, a study just completed finds that…
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PUBLICATIONS
Direct-To Publications
Link to a list of Direct-To papers available for download.
+ View List
PRESS RELEASES
NASA Software Promotes Airline Fuel Efficiency
NASA-developed Direct-To software is being incorporated into Boeing's new InFlight Optimization Services, which will help airlines save fuel and increase environmental efficiency.
October 26, 2010
+ NASA Press Release
+ Boeing Press Release
AWARDS
Turning Goals Into Reality (TGIR) 2002
The Direct-To (D2) ATM Advisory Tool Demonstration Team received the FY01 TGIR award in the Increase Capacity Objective for development of a decision support tool for radar controllers in en route air traffic control centers that identifies opportunities for shorter routes while calculating the effects of wind and the possibility of conflicts.
+ Watch the Announcement (See Objective 4)
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Last Updated: October 13, 2016

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