NASA Spinoff

Comprehensive Software Eases Air Traffic Management

Product Outcome

FACET is now a fully integrated feature in the Flight Explorer Professional Edition (version 7.0). Flight Explorer Professional is a flight-tracking and management-decision support tool that the aviation community can use to improve operational efficiency and business performance. It incorporates NASA’s FACET technology to graphically depict airports and air sectors that are approaching capacity or are over capacity. FACET provides a count of the total number of arrivals and departures at airports every 15 minutes, plus a count of aircraft flying and aircraft anticipated to be flying within a given sector every 15 minutes—all while calculating loading predictions and weather conditions—to help keep flights on schedule. Data is derived from posted flight plans, and information pertaining to airports and sectors is color-coded, based on capacity. For instance, if an airport is at less than 80- percent capacity, it is marked green; if it is at greater than or equal to 80-percent capacity, it is marked yellow; if it is at 100-percent capacity, it is marked red. Green, yellow, and red color codes also apply for the capacity of sectors.

Flight Explorer Professional offers end users a plethora of other benefits, including ease of operation. As a computer-based, graphical aircraft situation display, it uses a standard Internet connection to securely stream real-time aircraft and weather information from the Flight Explorer Inc. data center to the user, every 10 seconds. The information the data center collects is retrieved from radar, satellite, and other tracking mechanisms provided by the Federal Aviation Administration and other aviation sources.

The software’s Flight Alert System generates automatic alerts to inform users of important events, better preparing them for weather conditions and potential airport delays. A real-time log of any significant events occurring during flight or at an airport is recorded and can be exported to a database for analysis. For the weather alerts, Flight Explorer depends on the NEXRAD (next generation radar) weather-surveillance satellite to display forecast scenarios 6 hours ahead of time. Graphical overlays are also built in so that users can view real-time maps containing layers of information on top of each other, such as air traffic patterns on top of regional weather conditions.

When asked about the vision for the Flight Explorer software, Jim Kelly, Flight Explorer Inc.’s chief executive officer, said, “It’s pretty simple. Start with the aircraft situation display as a cornerstone for display and messaging services, make sure it is the best out there by listening to customers, and partner with those willing to help adapt and improve it.”

Evidently, the customers agree: “Nothing compares to the comprehensive feature set and ease of use of Flight Explorer Professional,” noted Casey Barr, owner services manager for Regal Aviation, a private jet service based in Dallas.

“We utilize Flight Explorer Professional in both our daily operation and analysis. It allows our operational managers to understand and then react to situations in real time,” stated Christopher Forshier, of the Systems Operations Coordination Center at Houston-based Continental Airlines.

Flight Explorer Professional also provides international, real-time flight coverage over Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and sections of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In addition, Flight Explorer Inc. has broadened coverage by partnering with Honeywell International Inc.’s Global Data Center, Blue Sky Network, Sky Connect LLC, SITA, ARINC Incorporated, Latitude Technologies Corporation, and Wingspeed Corporation, to track their aircraft anywhere in the world.

Flight Explorer® and Flight Explorer Professional® are registered trademarks, and Flight Alert™ is a trademark of Flight Explorer Inc.