NASA’s Langley Research Center is developing Traffic Aware Strategic Aircrew Requests (TASAR). TASAR features a cockpit automation system that monitors for potential flight trajectory improvements and displays them to the pilot. These wind-optimized flight trajectory changes are pre-cleared of potential conflicts with other known airplane traffic, weather hazards, and airspace restrictions. The TASAR is to improve the process in which pilots request flight path and altitude modifications due to changing flight conditions. Changes may be made to reduce flight time, increase fuel efficiency, or improve some other flight attribute desired by the operator. Currently, pilots make such requests to air traffic control (ATC) with limited awareness of what is happening around them. Consequently, some of these requests will be denied resulting in no flight improvements and an unnecessary workload increase for both pilots and ATC. The TASAR technology provides pilots with recommended flight path and altitude improvements that are more likely to be approved by ATC.
The NASA software application developed under the TASAR project is called the Traffic Aware Planner (TAP). TAP automatically monitors for flight optimization opportunities in the form of lateral and/or vertical trajectory changes. Surveillance data of nearby aircraft, using ADS-B IN technology, are processed to evaluate and avoid possible conflicts resulting from requested changes in the trajectory. TAP also leverages real-time connectivity to any available external information sources of operational data relating to such factors as winds, weather, and restricted airspace to produce the most acceptable and beneficial trajectory-change solutions. The software application is designed for installation on low-cost electronic flight bags that provide readonly access to avionics data. The user interface is also compatible with the popular iPad. FAA certification and operational approval requirements are expected to be minimal for this non-safety-critical flight-efficiency application, reducing implementation cost and accelerating adoption by the airspace user community.