Dr. David Smith gave an invited talk on the Emergency Landing Planner (ELP) at the Seventh International Workshop on Planning and Scheduling for Space (IWPSS), held June 8-10 at the European Space Agency Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany. The ELP software is designed to assist pilots in choosing a good emergency landing site when damage or failures occur in their aircraft. The ELP considers all runways within a 150-mile radius, constructs the best path to each one, and evaluates the risk of each possible path. The risk model takes into account a large number of factors, including airport facilities; runway length, width, and condition; airport ceiling, visibility, and surface winds; en route weather; and the flight envelope of the damaged aircraft. The best alternatives are then presented to the pilots in order of increasing risk.
The presentation sparked discussion of a number of topics, including user interfaces, testing and deployment, and possible applications of the technology to other areas, such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), and entry, descent, and landing for spacecraft (EDL). The presentation was followed by demonstrations of the software at both the IWPSS conference, and at the subsequent 21st International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS) held in Freiburg, Germany, June 11-16.
BACKGROUND: Work on the Emergency Landing Planner (ELP) began in FY07 under the Integrated Resilient Aircraft Control (IRAC) project. In FY10, the prototype ELP software was integrated into the Flight Management System of the Advanced Concepts Flight Simulator (ACFS) at ARC. Evaluations of the software were conducted over three weeks in August and October utilizing five crews of professional airline pilots. Pilot response to the software was overwhelmingly positive, with several pilots expressing the desire to have this capability in their existing aircraft. Current work on the project is focused on extending the ELP to provide guidance to pilots when the flight envelope is only partially known, or is changing.
NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: ARMD, the Aviation Safety Program, and the Vehicle Systems Safety Technologies (VSST) project
TEAM MEMBERS: Elif Kurklu, Nicolas Meuleau, Christian Neukom, Christian Plaunt, David Smith, and Tristan Smith
Contact: David E. Smith