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Real-Time Safety Monitoring of National Airspace Demonstrated To FAA Research, Engineering, and Development Advisory Committe
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Real-Time Safety Monitoring of National Airspace Demonstrated To FAA Research, Engineering, and Development Advisory Committe

Real-Time Safety Monitoring (RTSM) and prediction of the National Airspace System (NAS) was demonstrated to the Research, Engineering, and Development Advisory Committee (REDAC) Human Factors subcommittee on March 28th, 2017. The RTSM proof-of-concept prototype analyzes live NAS data from a region of airspace extending 50 nautical miles from San Francisco airport to quantitatively assess safety of the NAS.

RTSM reasons over multiple inputs, including surveillance and weather data, and generates near real-time predictions about safety margins for selected safety metrics, such as (but ultimately not limited to) aircraft separation, wake vortex encounters, convective weather encounters, and sector demand exceedances. The real-time traffic situation, safety metric predictions, and any safety metric violations are displayed using example formats suitable for actionable situational awareness.

BACKGROUND: Safety is paramount in the NAS. As the NAS continues to evolve with increased traffic and new operational paradigms, maintaining safety becomes more challenging. To this end, the Discovery and Systems Health Tech Area within the Intelligent Systems Division has been developing the RTSM framework to quantitatively assess safety margins for safety metrics that spotlight NAS hazards implicated as precursors to unsafe events, e.g., operational errors, incidents, or accidents. Examples of safety metrics include diversity of aircraft being controlled, risk of runway excursion, complexity of required procedures, proximity to special activity airspace, and operational status of airspace components such as navigational aids.

RTSM takes as input information about the current state of the NAS (e.g., location of aircraft and weather systems), and information relevant in forecasting the future state of the system (e.g., flight plans and weather forecasts). Using models of the NAS (e.g., aircraft trajectories, weather movement, pilot and controller behavior, etc.) and probability distributions describing the many uncertainties inherent in the NAS (e.g., aircraft position, weather dynamics, etc.), RTSM simulates many possible evolutions of the system and produces probability distributions for safety metrics, unsafe event occurrence, likelihood of unsafe events, and earliest time of occurrence. The operator can specify a threshold delineating safe from unsafe regions in the state space. These safety metrics can then be used to compute the available safety margins, i.e., the difference between safety metrics and the threshold values that determine unsafe regions in the airspace.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Shadow Mode Assessment using Realistic Technologies for the National Airspace System (SMART-NAS) project, Airspace Operations and Safety Program (AOSP), Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD)

TEAM: Matthew Daigle, Kai Goebel, Chetan Kulkarni, Wendy Okolo, John Ossenfort, Indranil Roychoudhury, Shankar Sankararaman, and Lilly Spirkovska


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