NASA Spinoff

Surface Operations Systems Improve Airport Efficiency

SODAA imports data after receiving updates from the STMS, which allows for post-operations analysis for a variety of uses: long-term airport planning, highly accurate operations billing, assessing noise abatement issues, and routine management of ground traffic. Based on the data it collects, SODAA identifies busy runway crossings and choke points, calculates waiting times and taxi times, and determines how frequently and for what duration taxiways and runways are used. The software analyzes these runway assignments, flight profiles, and taxi routes in order to help managers make key decisions and be alert to potential or recurring slowdowns; SODAA displays key factors like proximity to a conflict point, such as a bottlenecked runway, taxiway, or ramp area. SODAA can then create new scenarios for departure and arrival traffic by using customized management strategies. Airport planners can also adapt the tool to suit different needs and conditions, such as a taxiway that cannot be used on certain dates due to construction.

In addition to inefficiencies, the SODAA tool can also help analysts recognize possible safety concerns, such as a particular driver who regularly follows the wrong route. By preventing or catching a surface deviation early, an analyst or airport manager may help avoid a costly or dangerous delay. User-friendly graphics also allow users to view these vehicle paths, and to drill down to see more specific information and statistics, such as how closely and regularly a vehicle is adhering to its assigned route, and how often it is out of compliance.

alt

In order to create detailed views of the various airport operation levels, the software uses statistical correlation, clustering, and modeling in its data analysis. Brinton explains that these analytical techniques allow information about the airport operation to be automatically derived by SODAA and provided to the user. “For example,” Brinton says, “if flights parked at one concourse experience more delays than flights parked at other concourses, SODAA will identify this correlation and display it to the user.” This analysis depends on the collection of large amounts of surface data from STMS to identify consistent characteristics.

Customers such as air traffic specialists, airline managers, and airport authorities use SODAA to improve operations efficiency and to help make long-term planning decisions at airports. Brinton explains, “The significant costs of aviation delays and the opportunity to reduce such delays through this effort result in a strong market for the SODAA technology.” Currently, Mosaic ATM continues the commercialization and development of SODAA under a Phase III SBIR contract.