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Advanced Air Transportation Technologies (AATT) Project
Life on Earth

An efficient and effective air traffic management system is vital to the U.S. transportation infrastructure. Since 1978, when the airline industry was deregulated, the inflation adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) has increased by 62 percent. In this same time period, total output of scheduled passenger air transportation (as measured by Revenue Passenger Miles) has increased by 190 percent and total airfreight ton miles have increased by 289 percent. Since 1997, flight delays have skyrocketed - doubling in only four years. These trends are expected to continue. In 1998, airline delays in the U.S. cost industry and passengers $4.5 billion -- the equivalent of a 7 percent tax on every dollar collected by all the domestic airlines combined.

The major focus of the AATT Project is to improve the capacity of transport aircraft operations at and between major airports in the National Airspace System (NAS) by developing decision support tools (DST) to help air traffic controllers, airline dispatchers, and pilots improve the air traffic management and control process from gate-to gate. This project is responsible for defining, exploring, and developing advanced Air Traffic Management (ATM) system concepts to a state suitable for pre-production prototype development by the FAA and industry, leading to eventual full-scale development and deployment. The AATT project approach is to develop baseline operational concepts for the NAS that can be used to guide Project decisions regarding the value and appropriateness of ongoing work and determine the best direction for future work. Further, the operational concept will include a transition strategy from the baseline to the mature state (2015). The Project will ensure that all user classes are considered in the concept of operations.

Decision support tools that will support the AATT operational concepts will include terminal/transition/en route airspace tools for arrival, surface, and departure operations. Also included will be flight deck and ground-based tools to support Free Flight concepts. The adaptation and integration of these tools into the NAS environment will address some of the most difficult air traffic management issues. Two of these issues are operations in complex airspace and the implementation of distributed air/ground responsibilities for separation. Rather than relying on just optimal control of the movement of each aircraft within discrete airspace segments, the objective is to provide human-centered, error-tolerant automation to assist in short- and intermediate-term decision-making between pilots, controllers, and dispatchers to integrate block-to-block planning services. This will allow all airspace users to choose the best flight path for their own purpose within the constraints of safety and the needs of other users. The final focus of the project will be the assessment and validation of project objectives.