The Airspace Concept Evaluation System (ACES) was developed by NASA’s Airspace System Program to simulate flights and National Airspace System (NAS) operations, as an event-based, simulation application that has proven to be very effective for conceptual air traffic studies. During fiscal year 2006, an improvement to ACES was made at the NASA Glenn Research Center that involved implementing communication, navigation, and surveillance (CNS) system models into this application. Detailed system models were incorporated in three technology areas: (1) communications--voice communication and controller-pilot data link communications (CPDLC), (2) surveillance--secondary surveillance radar (SSR) and automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B), and (3) navigation--Global Positioning System (GPS) and very high frequency (VHF) omnidirectional radar and digital measuring equipment (VOR/DME). These models were integrated into a version of ACES called ACES with CNS Models (AwCNS).
Along with the nominal operation of these systems to provide communications, navigation, and surveillance systems, three additional features were added that more realistically simulate their air traffic control (ATC) implementation.
Section of the northern United States overlayed with the flight path of an aircraft that flies from Dulles Airport near Washington DC to Seattle International Airport in Washington State. At both the Dulles and Seattle airports, the TRACON airspace regions are indicated as well as all sector boundaries that the aircraft flies through along its flight path.
To enhance the use of the flight physics model in ACES, closed-loop operation features were introduced using the navigation and surveillance models. With closed-loop operation for navigation, the system provides feedback of the navigation system model output to the aircraft. With closed-loop operation using the surveillance system, a simulation can provide feedback of the reported position to ATC agents in ACES. ACES NAS agents can use this information to generate new maneuvers for the aircraft or to identify traffic restriction violations due to the variation of the aircraft from its anticipated or desired position, leading to a more realistic and dynamic flight scenario.
AwCNS models developed in this effort offer a diverse array of experimentation possibilities for investigating the NAS infrastructure with a proven, NAS-wide simulation tool. With these new modeling capabilities, existing NAS operations and new concept simulations that target NAS operational improvements can include CNS infrastructure systems, and results can be used to evaluate their ability to support those operations and concept objectives.
The project team consisted of in-house personnel from Glenn and contractors from Analex Corporation, Intelligent Automation, Inc., and Computer Networks and Software, Inc.
Donald Van Drei, 216-433-9089, Donald.E.VanDrei@nasa.gov
Typical airport layout with terminals, arriving and departing runways, and the airport and TRACON airspaces detailed where communications to and from aircraft occur. A separate radio tower is located in each airspace shown to indicate the per-airspace, channel separation provided for airport communication simulations.
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Last updated: December 14, 2007
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