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Advanced Air Traffic Management Ontology Released to the Federal Aviation Administration
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Advanced Air Traffic Management Ontology Released to the Federal Aviation Administration

In response to a request from staff in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Chief Information Officer (CIO) organization, the NASA Air Traffic Management (ATM) Ontology was delivered on Jan 22, 2015. The delivery came following completion of a software release agreement signed by NASA and the FAA in December 2014. The FAA intends to use the ontology and its associated data in conjunction with various proof-of-concept demonstrations being developed within the FAA.

BACKGROUND: Code TI, in collaboration with Code AF, is developing an ATM Ontology as part of a semantic data integration prototype that fuses various sources of ATM data from the FAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, and other providers. An existing ATM Data Warehouse in Code AF currently archives and makes available many data sets of interest to aeronautics researchers. However, these data sets lack standardization and incorporate differing data formats, nomenclature, and organizational structure. As a result, data cannot be combined across sources without significant effort by individual researchers who must download and write customized code to integrate data on an as-needed, piecemeal basis. The ATM Ontology functions as a unifying superstructure upon which data from multiple sources can be overlaid.

Ontologies are specialized types of data models that describe data semantics in terms of objects, attributes, and relationships relevant to the data being stored. The ATM Ontology models aspects of various concepts pertinent to air traffic control, encompassing flight and navigation, geospatial information, aircraft equipment and systems, the National Airspace topology, meteorology, air traffic management initiatives, and other areas. Historical data from various sources, including the FAA and NOAA, have been loaded into the ontology to create a large interconnected network of ATM data related to flights arriving and departing Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport for a single day in September 2012. (The ontology will be scaled up to cover additional data during FY15.) This data includes flight, weather, traffic management advisory, airport delay, and national airspace infrastructure data. The ontology can be used to answer queries whose solutions require data from multiple, previously disconnected sources.

In late August, staff from the FAA's CIO Office of Enterprise Information Management Strategy and Governance visited ARC-TI to exchange information on respective activities involving ontologies and semantic technology development. Numerous opportunities for collaboration were explored, including ontology-sharing, joint demonstrations, ongoing technical interchanges, and programmatic access to data available through the ATM ontology. The FAA's Office of the CIO is engaged in building a number of semantic products to support FAA Enterprise Architecture and interoperability efforts.

TEAM: Rich Keller (POC); Code AF: Michelle Eshow and Shubha Ranjan; FAA: Deborah Cowell

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Networked Air Traffic Management (ATM) project, the Shadow Mode Assessment using Realistic Technologies (SMART) for the National Airspace System (NAS) program, Aviation Safety Program (AsP) and the Airspace Operations and Safety Program (AOSP), Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD)

Contact: Rich Keller

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