FLYING LABORATORY COMES TO OHARE
NASA uses former airliner to test technology
From the outside it looks much like any other Boeing 757
passenger jet. But there are some clues
in its markings
that it is no airliner.
Its a NASA laboratory on wings, designed to test next
generation aviation technologies to make flying safer, quieter and
NASAs Airborne Research Integrated Experiments System
(ARIES) aircraft, normally based at NASAs Langley Research
Center in Hampton, Va., will be in Chicago at OHare
International Airport the week of September 16. The jet and its
flight researchers will test an airborne computer system for
airliners that could help decrease air traffic delays and help
reduce air traffic controllers work loads.
Its called ATAAS or Advanced Terminal Area Approach
Spacing. It would give pilots automatic speed information and
guidance so that planes can be precisely spaced on their final
approach into the airport.
The NASA jet will test the technology with the help of two other
aircraft, a Rockwell Collins Sabreliner and a Piper Chieftain,
owned by Chicago-based Aviation Navigation Satellite Program. The
three aircraft will fly approaches at OHare over four
"NASA is excited about working with the Chicago Department of
Aviation, the Federal Aviation Administration and the air traffic
controllers at OHare to test this new airborne technology,"
said Wayne Bryant deputy director of the NASA Aviation Systems
Capacity Program at NASA Langley. "We hope this is the beginning of
a long relationship with the city of Chicago as it continues to
upgrade its airports."
"Before any new systems can make it into airliners they need to
be tested in a real world environment. As the busiest airport in
the world, OHare certainly fits that criteria," added Terry
Abbott, lead researcher of the ATAAS system.
"The Chicago Department of Aviation is constantly working
to make its airports the safest and most efficient in the world,"
said City of Chicago Aviation Commissioner Thomas R. Walker. "We
believe by embracing new aviation technologies developed by NASA we
can help keep OHare moving forward to meet the demands of the
NASAs ARIES 757 has a five-year history as a technology
laboratory and demonstrator. The aircraft has been used to test
systems and procedures:
- that would decrease the chance of runway collisions
- that would virtually eliminate accidents caused by limited
- that would give pilots better weather information
- that could reduce noise near airports
- that would improve approach spacing on parallel runways
The NASA jet has conducted flight tests at a number of major
airports including Atlantas Hartsfield International,
Dallas/Fort Worth International and Minneapolis-St. Paul
International, but this months trip to OHare is the
first time the ARIES 757 will evaluate technology in Chicago.
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