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For Release: August 25, 1995

Roderick (Ron) Harvey
Phone: 804-864-6527

Keith Henry
Phone: 804-864-6120

RELEASE No. 95-85

AIRPORT AUTOMATION CONCEPTS TESTED

NASA Langley Research Center has completed a flight demonstration of airport automation concepts that promise to safely increase traffic capacity on airport runways and taxi surfaces at our nation’s airports. As envisioned, the concepts will provide flight crews with the status of ground traffic at a typical airport along with air traffic control instructions. They will also provide ground controllers with a clear picture of airport surfaces traffic both day and night and in all weather conditions.

Information gathered during this demonstration showed that the most advanced communications, navigation and surveillance technologies can provide significant improvements in aircraft ground operations. These tests also showed that virtually instantaneous data communications can be maintained among several systems while maintaining aircraft surveillance within three meters on the airport surface.

Because aircraft movement on the airport surface is not without risk, these flight demonstrations show advantages for airports that use these technologies. Enhanced efficiency and safety can be achieved with automation by reducing human error and minimizing pilot and controller workload.

The tests were conducted using the NASA Boeing-737 at the FAA Tech Center located at the Atlantic City International Airport.

During these tests, an air traffic controller with a data link between the control tower and the aircraft sent approved taxi routes and hold instructions to the aircraft. The information from the controller was displayed on a NASA Langley developed electronic moving map onboard the aircraft. Positions of airport traffic obtained from a ground surveillance radar were also sent to the aircraft for display on the map.

The B-737 was instrumented with onboard data and video equipment and a video telemetry link. The telemetry link allowed ground based officials to see the aircraft movements on the taxiways and cockpit activities, including the electronic moving map, as they occurred.

Westinghouse Norden Systems, headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., provided the Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE-3) radar and the Airport Movement Area Safely System (AMASS). ASDE is a high resolution ground mapping radar that provides airport traffic controllers with all weather surveillance capabilities. AMASS provides safety advisories for ground controllers with automatic audio and visual alerts. The ARINC company, based in Annapolis, Maryland, provided the high speed data link and a ground-based communications workstation.

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