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Sept. 19, 2000

John Bluck

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Phone: 650/604-5026 or 604-9000


Kandace Bender

San Francisco SFO Airfield Development Bureau, South San Francisco, CA

Phone: 650/821-2112

Release: 00-61AR

NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: You are invited to cover a news conference Thursday, Sept. 21, at 10 a.m. PDT, at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, regarding recent NASA simulations of potential, new air traffic control tower locations at SFO. To reach Ames, take the Moffett Field exit from Highway 101, drive east to the main gate at Moffett Federal Airfield and report to the visitor badging office for maps and directions to Bldg. 262, room 100. Tours of the nearby FutureFlight Central simulator will take place after the news conference. The simulator will be available to reporters only until 2 p.m. Related video footage is slated for satellite distribution and handout on betacam videotape; please see further information at the end of this notice. U.S. media representatives must have valid picture ID in order to enter Ames. Foreign media representatives must be escorted.


San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and NASA officials will conduct a news conference at 10 a.m. PDT, Thursday, Sept. 21 to discuss research conducted at a large NASA airport simulator to consider scenarios for potential SFO control tower relocation, should runway reconfiguration occur.

The briefing will be at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, near FutureFlight Central, a simulator that can represent the busiest U.S. airport towers in size and capability and can house as many as a dozen air traffic controllers.

"Should a reconfiguration option be pursued, we want to make certain that the air traffic control tower does not become the limiting factor for the safe, efficient movement of aircraft at SFO," said Matthew Mead, senior planning manager for SFO runway reconfiguration. "This is part of our continuing commitment to deploy the appropriate technology advances to address our rising air passenger levels, decrease delays and decrease noise levels."

During the news conference, Mead will answer questions about the status of the SFO simulation work completed at NASA. Nancy Dorighi and Boris Rabin, both of NASA Ames, will be on hand to answer queries about how the simulator works and to conduct tours following the briefing and question-and-answer period.

FutureFlight Central is a walk-in, full-scale, 360-degree airport simulator that can help researchers evaluate new tower positions, runway configurations and aircraft movements before new construction begins.

"NASA's FutureFlight Central hopes to save airports costly design errors by permitting planners to easily experience different, highly realistic versions of their airport design and, most importantly, observe how real people work inside these future environments," said Dr. Paul Kutler, deputy director of the NASA Ames Information Systems Directorate.

The simulator's artificial world changes in real time. Scenes evolve in the same manner that real-world changes occur. In the computer world, airplanes not only come and go, but weather changes. Consoles at each controller's location show radar, weather maps, runway lights and touch-screen controls, as well as other readouts.

"Engineers can identify future problems and can try solutions in a safe setting, the computer's virtual world," said Dorighi, who manages the facility at Ames. "We are able to represent any airfield in existence or as planned for the future. We can measure the impact of a change on the airport's capacity, and let the controllers try it first-hand, all before anything is built."

Other unique features of NASA FutureFlight Central include: capability to move the tower "eye point" to any location, including a "pilot eye view"; precise controls to simulate weather, time-of-day, cloud coverage and lighting; a voice and data communication network, allowing ground-to-tower and air-to-tower human interaction; and video record and playback, allowing analysis of human performance and decisions. More FutureFlight information is on the Internet at:

NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: Broadcasters may downlink NASA satellite "video file" footage related to this story, on Sept. 20 and 21, unless satellite feeds are interrupted due to a delay in the upcoming Space Shuttle landing. After Sept. 21, depending upon the satellite schedule, re-feeds of the material may also be available; please telephone Ray Castillo at 202-358-4555 in Washington, DC, to make a re-feed request.

Please note that all TV feed times, unless otherwise listed, are Eastern Times. The NASA Video File normally airs at 12:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. NASA Television is available on GE-2, transponder 9C at 85 degrees West longitude, with vertical polarization. Frequency is 3880.0 Megahertz, with audio on 6.8 Megahertz. Any changes to the line-up will appear on the NASA video file advisory on the web at



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