The NASA Langley Aeronautics Systems Analysis Branch (ASAB) is heavily involved in research studies to evaluate new and emerging concepts targeted at improving the National Airspace System (NAS). The primary tool used by ASAB to perform these studies is the Airspace Concept Evaluation System (ACES), a medium-fidelity, NAS-wide simulation environment.

The ACES simulation tool generates an enormous amount of data with each simulation of the NAS. The motivation for the ACES ToolSuite was to develop a set of tools with the ability to quickly extract or visualize ACES simulation data, and to build up the tool suite as specific data needs were identified, and where no other tools were available that could serve the same task. One particular initial need was identified: the need to extract four-dimensional trajectory data that could be used in a standalone conflict detection and resolution algorithm. This tool also has the ability to identify, visualize, and filter out specific airborne conflicts between aircraft pairs detected by the ACES simulation, and can output the specifics of these conflicts to an output file for use elsewhere.

The purpose of the ACES Tools GUI is to provide easy access to all of the tools available in the suite. New tools can easily be incorporated. Version 1.0 contains one tool: The 4-Dimensional (4-D) Trajectory generation tool. It was designed to extract the flown trajectories from an ACES simulation run into an output file with latitude, longitude, altitude, and time. The output file is formatted to work directly with the Stratway program. Down-sampling is used to reduce the number of trajectory points needed in order to minimize the size of the output file, based on user-defined tolerances on the waypoints and altitudes. Also, the user can select a subset of flights that passed through a specific Air Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) or centers, and that occurred within some adjustable time window between the start and end of the ACES simulation run. The tool allows for extraction of the full flight trajectory (from takeoff to landing) or a simple top-of-climb to top-of-descent trajectory for each flight.

This work was done by Nelson M. Guerreiro of Langley Research Center. LAR-17882-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the February, 2015 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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