layout University Affiliated Research Center - UC Santa Cruz - NASA Ames Research Center

Aerospace Systems

Supporting NASA’s mission to revolutionize aviation

The UARC’s Aerospace tasks (summarized below) encompass the following ARC research focus areas:

  • Automated operations management systems, interfaces, and procedures.
  • Cockpit systems, interfaces, and procedures.
  • Human factors, their effect on aerospace operations, and error mitigation.
  • Hazardous environment characterization, detection, and avoidance systems.
  • Path-finding applications of ultra-reliable software techniques, using formal methods and automated code generation.

This research requires the integration of information technology, and the possible benefits of other technologies (such as nanotechnology) are also being explored. Work in this area is expected to grow to meet the needs of the National Airspace System and deep space exploration missions.


Automation Concepts in Aerospace Systems

The Automation Concepts (AFC) branch conducts research in En Route Decision Support Tools and Traffic Flow Management, combining expertise in guidance and control, optimization, human factors, algorithm design, and software development. As air traffic increases, En Route Decision Support Tools research must address the changing roles of controllers, pilots, and Airline Operation Centers (AOCs). Traffic Flow Management addresses the planning of the flow of several thousand aircraft in the continental U.S. in situations involving uncertain weather information and multiple decision makers. The key requirement in both areas is the development and improvement of appropriate models, followed by algorithm development and optimization, simulation, and validation.

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Air Traffic Management (ATM) Software Development

This task is developing software for decision-support tools that provide automation assistance for air traffic management. Such tools will benefit air traffic controllers by reducing stress and workload and will also benefit air travelers by reducing delays and increasing safety. The primary body of software under development is the Center/TRACON Automation System, or CTAS. CTAS is a suite of automation tools running under common software architecture including the following: Traffic Management Advisor (TMA), Multi-Center Traffic Management Advisor (McTMA), Final Approach Spacing Tool (FAST), Active Final Approach Spacing Tool (AFAST), Expedite Departure Path (EDP), Collaborative Arrival Planner (CAP), Direct-To (D2), En-Route/Descent Advisor (E/DA) and Traffic Flow Automation System (TFAS).

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ATM Software V&V, Release, and IT Support

This task provides support for the continued research, development, testing, implementation, and fielding of the CTAS tool suite in a rapid prototyping environment. Activities include: Verification and Validation (V&V) of CTAS releases, release support of all software and associated documentation, data analysis support, demonstration support, software quality assurance, IT support and administrative support.

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Air Traffic Management (ATM) Fundamental Research

This task is part of a long-term effort in Air Traffic Management, conducting cutting-edge research on automating portions of the nationís air transportation system under NASAís Airspace Systems Program. The UARC team will work closely with NASA researchers, outside researchers, air traffic controllers, air traffic managers, and contractors to conceptualize technologies for the air traffic control system targeted at the year 2025.

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Engineering Support for the Aeromechanics Division

The US Army Aeromechanics Division, Code YA, at Ames Research Center conducts basic and applied research in rotorcraft aeromechanics. The goal of this task is to provide aeromechanical expertise to Code YA in support of analytical, computational and experimental research in the Army 7- by 10-Foot Wind Tunnel as well as other facilities.

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Flight Control System Software Development

The YH Branch produces software for the design, simulation, integration, and flight testing of flight control systems, particularly those related to rotorcraft. Four main software modules make up this integrated set of tools.

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Human Systems Software Development

The Human Systems Lab within the YH Branch performs research into the design and testing of human interface systems, particularly with respect to fixed wing and rotorcraft Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). There are two software simulations (MUSIM, Synthetic Vision Cab (SVC)) developed and supported within the lab that are used in the research.

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NTX Research Station

The NASA/FAA North Texas Research Station (NTX) was established to support the evaluation of advanced air traffic management DSTs, such as the Center/TRACON Automation System (CTAS), in an operational air traffic environment. The work at NTX breaks down into three subtasks: air traffic management research; NASA-prototype CTAS daily use and infrastructure development and maintenance. The primary focus of this task is to develop several decision-support tools (DSTs) for air traffic management. These tools evaluate the air traffic situation in real-time to support more efficient management and control with increased safety and reduced workload.

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