July 16, 1996
Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA
RELEASE NO. 96-071
"HIGHWAY IN THE SKY" READY FOR ATLANTA OLYMPICS
NASA, the FAA and industry partners have provided the technology
for a revolutionary new system to be used during the Olympics to
move air traffic efficiently and safely in uncontrolled airspace
over predetermined "highways in the
When athletes take to the field in Atlanta for the 1996 Summer
Olympic Games, specially equipped helicopters will transport
high-value commercial goods and provide essential public safety
services. Approximately two million people are expected to visit
the Atlanta region during the Olympics, July 19-Aug. 4.
The Atlanta Olympics offer a rare opportunity to demonstrate
advanced communications/navigation/surveillance (CNS) flight
systems for future air traffic management. Specially equipped
helicopters and supporting ground stations will enable dozens of
Atlanta-based companies to overcome the expected transportation
burden and generate an estimated $20 million in revenues. For
medical, disaster and law enforcement agencies, critical emergency
services will be significantly enhanced.
The $2 million CNS technology development effort was co-funded
by NASA, the FAA and eight general aviation companies, all members
of the Advanced General Aviation Transport Experiments (AGATE)
was formed in 1994 to revitalize U.S. general aviation through
advanced technology development and deployment. General aviation
includes everything from personal helicopters and fixed-wing
aircraft to business, public and commuter aircraft.
The AGATE consortium is participating in the Olympic project
through its flight systems team led by the Langley Research Center,
Hampton, Va. Industry team members are ARNAV Systems Inc.,
Puyallup, Wash.; Harris Corp., Melbourne, Fla.; PanAm Systems,
Minneapolis, Minn.; AvroTec Inc., Portland, Ore.; Digital Equipment
Corp., Greenbelt, Md.; ARINC, Annapolis, Md.; Terra Corporation,
Albuquerque, N.M., and NavRadio, Golden, Colo.
By providing key technologies, AGATE is contributing to a
massive FAA-led effort to manage air traffic in the Atlanta region
during the Olympics and lay the groundwork for future air traffic
management and regional disaster emergency response concepts. The
overall FAA initiative for the Atlanta Olympics is called Operation
Heli-Star. Other primary partners working with the FAA on the
initiative, called the Atlanta Short-haul Transportation System,
are Georgia Tech Research Institute, Helicopter Association
International, Georgia Emergency Management Agency and the Atlanta
Vertical Flight Association, an association of Atlanta businesses
Up to 50 helicopters equipped with AGATE-designed avionics will
participate in the joint Atlanta operation. The Heli-Star program
is designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of helicopters
equipped with this system for improved safety, security and
economics in urban operations. It is expected that more than 1,400
hours of flight-time during the Olympic games will yield data on
operational use and human factors.
"It is amazing what the AGATE Olympic team has accomplished in a
short period of time," said Bruce Holmes, manager of the general
aviation office at Langley and director of the AGATE consortium.
"The FAA estimates,"Holmes said, "that this effort would have
required more than three years using traditional government
contracting procedures. This is a dramatic testimonial to the
efficiency of the consortium approach to doing business with and
within the federal government and a prime example of 'reinventing'
The AGATE-developed flight system is the first to demonstrate
the combined use of digital data link communications and Global
Positioning System (GPS) satellite navigation technologies working
together to provide the pilot with accurate, easy-to-interpret
graphical information about the relative positions of other
aircraft and ground-based GPS systems. Aircraft positions also will
be linked to radar-like ground consoles where air traffic managers
and security personnel will be able to monitor their location and
send data linked messages to air crews.
The specially equipped aircraft will also be capable of
self-dispatch operations in a "free-flight" mode during the Olympic
games. The Atlanta project provides AGATE with the first
large-scale demonstration of free-flight capabilities. After
Atlanta, AGATE plans further development of free-flight
capabilities for general aviation use nationwide.
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FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CONTACT:
404-305-5100 Kathleen Bergen, FAA
404-894-6986 John Toon, Georgia Tech Research Institute
713-376-5892 Tom Marlowe, Helicopter Association International
404-635-7022 Ken Davis, Georgia Emergency Management Association
text-only version of this release