NASA Awards 2010 Government and Commercial Inventions of the Year

FACET Software

altFACET is a flexible software-based simulation environment for exploration, development, and evaluation of advanced Air Traffic Management (ATM) concepts. Examples of concepts studied using FACET are aircraft self-separation for Free Flight, modeling and prediction of air traffic controller workload, a decision support tool for direct routing, integration of space launch vehicle operations into the US National Airspace System (NAS), and advanced traffic flow management techniques using rerouting, metering, and ground delay.

FACET models system-wide airspace operations over the contiguous United States. Airspace models are available from databases; weather models are also available. FACET models aircraft trajectories using spherical-earth equations; aircraft can be flown along either flight plan routes or direct (great circle) routes as they climb, cruise, and descend according to their individual aircraft-type performance models.

“As the world’s population grows and air travel demand increases, our airspace will become more crowded,” said Banavar Sridhar, NASA senior scientist for Air Transportation Systems. “FACET helps air traffic management researchers find ways to increase airspace capacity and establish more efficient routes with the least impact on the environment, thereby saving fuel and minimizing emissions.”

A significant enhancement to FACET is the development of aircraft fuel-flow models, emission models, contrail models, and the optimization of single-aircraft trajectories to mitigate environmental impact. This provides the capability to conduct system-level trade-off studies to support the “green aviation” effort. Greenhouse gases, nitrous oxides, and contrails resulting from aircraft operations affect the environment in different and uncertain ways. Technological advances in air traffic management enabled by FACET can be applied to other large-scale networks such as the Internet (data communications), ground transportation systems, and power distribution grids.

FACET continues to support the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s (ARMD) Airspace System Program. It was recently integrated with NASA’s implementation of the Traffic Management Advisor (TMA), which
schedules aircraft for airport arrival. Assuming an airline operating cost of approximately $100 per minute, reducing the total delay even by a small percentage will result in significant savings to the airlines and air travelers.

For more information, visit www.aviationsystemsdivision.arc.nasa.gov/research/modeling/facet.shtml.

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