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Ames Hosts Aircraft Working Group Meeting

On February 16-17, 2011, Ames Research Center hosted the February meeting of the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) Aircraft Working Group (AWG). The meeting was chaired by Stephen VanTrees (FAA co-chair) and Frank Alexander (IATA industry co-chair). Participating either in person or through WebEx were personnel from the FAA, NASA Ames, NASA Kennedy Space Center, NASA Langley Research Center, JPDO, the Navy, MITRE, the Airline Pilots Association, American Airlines, Cessna Aircraft, Garmin Aviation, Rockwell Collins, Northrop Grumman, Thales Aerospace, SAIC, Boeing, and Airbus.

The working group continued to refine concepts for the Avionics Roadmap, Version 2. This document identifies the avionics needed to implement NextGen and projects scheduled for the phased introduction of avionics into the National Airspace System (NAS). The discussion this month focused on the vulnerabilities of future flight management system (FMS) GPS signals to electronics competing for the same communication spectrum, such as the nationwide wireless L-Band network by LightSquared Technologies.

In addition to the avionics roadmap work, the working group heard several informative Ames presentations:

  • Dave McNally (Flight Dynamics, Trajectory, and Controls Branch) presented “A Near-Term Concept For Trajectory-Based Operations With Air/Ground Data Link Communication”

  • Dave Smith (Intelligent Systems Division) presented “The Emergency Landing Planner” and included a demonstration of the software in the AFCS simulator

  • Harry Swenson (Aerospace High Density Operations Branch) presented “Airspace Super Density Operations Terminal Precision Scheduling and Spacing (TAPSS) System Preliminary Results”

The presentations generated a significant level of interest from the working group and each speaker answered many questions. Jacob Biggs of Cessna Aircraft expressed an interest in collaborating with Dave McNally through human testing of flight concepts using Cessna flight simulators, and John Swoyer of American Airlines also expressed an interest in collaborating with NASA. Hugues Meunier of Thales Avionics requested that Dave Smith consider Thales Aerospace as a future development partner and have follow-up discussions.

The working group discussed concepts and technologies required to introduce some classes of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in the NAS. With the help of six people from the Ames/Dryden UAS Project Office, the working group discussed high-level failure modes and contingency requirements. At the conclusion of the Ames discussion the FAA co-chair suggested that the next step would be to have a separate, follow-on teleconference next week between the FAA and NASA to discuss future collaboration and coordination between the agencies.

BACKGROUND: The Aircraft Working Group (AWG) is one of eight industry/government working groups that were instituted by the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) to help implement the NextGen vision. The AWG is comprised of both government and aviation industry representatives who make recommendations on which avionic and aircraft technologies are best able to increase capacity, improve air-travel safety, and benefit the environment while having a potentially sound business case supporting their development.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Aeronautics Office of Aviation Safety

Contact: Stephen Jacklin

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