NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 A1.01-9734
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Crew Systems Technologies for Improved Aviation Safety
PROPOSAL TITLE: Distributed Command/Control Impacts on NAS Operations

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Metron Aviation, Inc.
131 Elden Street, Suite 200
Herndon, VA 20170-4758

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Terry Thompson
131 Elden Street, Suite 200
Herndon, VA 20170-4758

Command and Control (C2) activities abound in the NAS, and significantly influence daily operations and overall NAS efficiency. Since C2 effects are so prominent, development of new operational concepts, and evaluation of proposed changes, requires simulation and modeling capabilities that include C2 effects. Metron Aviation leverages its extensive knowledge of the Command and Control (C2) functions of the National Airspace System (NAS) to develop models that enable realistic NAS simulations. The key innovations of this effort are 1) the implementation of models for NAS ATM C2 processes, and 2) the integration of these models with the NASA Langley Systems Analysis Branch's (SAB) Simulation Environment. The development leverages the following key capabilities: Metron Aviation's extensive experience supporting NAS C2 activities, and Langley's infrastructure for conducting NAS-wide simulations of air traffic. By developing this interaction we enable a system that allows researchers and analysts to evaluate current NAS operations and to investigate future technologies and concepts of operations. These users exploit the system's capabilities to observe NAS behavior and compare the benefits and impacts of operational concepts prior to pursuing implementation in the operational system.

Understanding of the system-wide impacts of NAS Command and Control is lacking in both operational practice and current research. This understanding is crucial for the evaluation of current/proposed future operations. Currently, NASA programs such as the Virtual Airspace Modeling and Simulation (VAMS) and the All-weather Capacity Enhancement NRA are developing system concepts to meet increasing air-traffic demand, reduce delays and improve safety/security. While evidence suggests that these techniques may provide significant benefit, NASA must accurately assess tradeoffs between such benefits and costs of implementation. Realistic NAS-wide simulations, including C2, are required to assess such operational concepts and technologies.

Estimates of ATM costs due to delays range from hundreds of millions of dollars to billions of dollars per year. Several research activities are being pursued to develop new concepts and technologies in an effort to meet the increasing demands. Many of these developments promise to be costly and laborious to implement, and the difficulty of adequately assessing the anticipated impacts creates significant risk operators and users of the NAS. Development of simulation capabilities and benefit assessment methods that include the effects of C2, creates significant commercial demand for accurate and robust C2 modeling capabilities.