NASA transfers potentially powerful tool to FAA Air Traffic Organization; hopefully it meets expectations

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NASA has considerable competence in systems development; whereas the FAA is primarily an operator and purchaser of Air Traffic Control hardware and software. Recently, the two organizations announced the transfer of a sophisticated system which NASA designed for the FAA.

The FAA and NASA used to be next door neighbors. Even after the aeronautical and space organization gave up its headquarters (to the aircraft safety organization) and moved about 6 blocks away, they remain close. In fact, NASA performs a number of important assignments for its former neighbor (including VDRP) and its critical NextGen component was transferred recently to the operator of the Air Traffic Control system.

Specifically Terminal Sequence and Spacing is a complex tool which when coupled with Area Navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) will result in the smoother and more efficient approaches depicted in the abovediagram. This system will graphically display circles on the controllers’ radar and that will provide a target slot markers that will point to a RNAV or RNP route through the forecasted wind field, meet all speed and altitude restrictions and land on time. The consequence is greater standardization, straighter and less complicated patterns.

The transfer does not yet constitute acceptance and implementation decisions by the FAA. Its Joint Resource Council, senior executives of all relevant internal organizations, will be tasked to decide whether TSS provides adequate benefits to justify its purchase and use by the ATO.

The potential for efficiency in aircraft flights and ATC handling appear great. Hopefully, the Council will conclude that TSS is a good buy.

PRESS RELEASE: NextGen Technology Transferred from NASA to FAA

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