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Paper 37 -- Flight Deck-Based Merging and Spacing during En Route Descent: Findings from an Air Traffic Controller Simulation

In an effort to achieve consistent, low variance spacing between aircraft pairs during arrival operations and to reduce aircraft maneuvering, noise, fuel burn, and controller workload, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is developing, and UPS has implemented an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) concept termed Merging and Spacing (M&S). M&S has two phases: a strategic set-up by a ground operator followed by tactical Flight Deck-Based Merging and Spacing (FDMS). In the initial implementation, both phases, involve pilots being requested to fly speeds from sources other than Air Traffic Control (ATC). In FDMS, the speeds are generated and displayed on-board the aircraft via a Cockpit Display of Traffic Information (CDTI) or other displays. The flight crew follows those speeds to achieve and maintain a desired time interval from a lead aircraft. This paper focuses on FDMS and presents the subjective and objective results of a human-in-the-loop simulation that examined the concept from the en route controller perspective during an in-trail operation, from aircraft top-of-descent through entry into terminal airspace in a Continuous Descent Arrival (CDA). Termed FDMS 4, the simulation was conducted in May and June of 2007 and is part of a development and maturation process that is underway for FDMS. The impact of FDMS on controller operations during entry to a CDA, as well as human performance, operational impact, and communications issues were examined. Concept acceptability and the handling of non-normal situations were also evaluated. Controllers reported on average that FDMS during en route descent operations was acceptable, desirable, and an improvement in operational efficiency. FDMS allowed for acceptable workload and traffic awareness – even in the event of spacing disruptions. Controllers had no issues intervening with FDMS traffic when necessary; however, controller responses were varied on whether it was acceptable to give FDMS aircraft priority. FDMS helped reduce overall controller interventions in an arrival stream under normal conditions, but did not increase or decrease total interventions for overall sector traffic sets under normal conditions or when spacing disruptions were introduced.
Theme: Continuous Descent Approaches
Keywords: Aircraft Surveillance Application, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, Cockpit Display of Traffic Information (CDTI), Continuous Descent Arrival (CDA), Flight Deck-based Merging and Spacing (FDMS), Merging and Spacing (M&S), spacing
Posted by: William Penhallegon / Other authors: Randall Bone
Note: Unset Received On Jan 22, 2009

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