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Technology Pathways: Assessing the Integrated Plan for a Next Generation Air Transportation System 4 Research and Development Roadmap and Integrated Product Teams ROADMAP The Integrated Plan includes a high-level roadmap running from 2005 to 2025 with one line item and about four key milestones for each of the eight transformation strategies. To create the timeline, the JPDO estimated how soon key milestones could be achieved, while considering the need to coordinate action in different areas. The roadmap was developed late in the preparation of the Integrated Plan and does not include detailed supporting plans. The JPDO intends to include a much more detailed roadmap in the next edition of the Integrated Plan. To be useful, the roadmap should also be based on sound program management techniques, incorporate critical path scheduling, and show linkages among the different strategies in terms of information flow and interdependencies among various milestones. INTEGRATED PRODUCT TEAMS Organization The JPDO has established an IPT to prepare and execute detailed plans for each of the eight transformation strategies. The FAA leads four of the IPTs. Each of the other key agencies involved in the JPDO (NASA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Commerce) leads one IPT, as follows: Airport Infrastructure IPT (FAA lead). Develop airport infrastructure to meet future demand. Aviation Security IPT (Department of Homeland Security lead). Establish an effective security system without limiting mobility or civil liberties. Air Traffic Management IPT (NASA lead). Establish an agile air traffic system. Situational Awareness IPT (Department of Defense lead). Establish user-specific situational awareness. Safety Management IPT (FAA lead). Establish a comprehensive, proactive safety management approach. Environmental Protection IPT (FAA lead). Develop environmental protection that allows sustained aviation growth. Weather IPT (Department of Commerce lead). Develop a systemwide capability to reduce weather impacts. Global Harmonization IPT (FAA lead). Harmonize equipage and operations globally. The JPDO has also formed a Master IPT with the goal of coordinating and integrating the work of the focused IPTs. The JPDO has an annual budget of $10 million, half from NASA and half from the FAA. The agency leading each IPT is responsible for its funding, and in most cases the IPT heads are government executives who have significant budgetary influence within their own agencies, or they work directly for someone who does. Given that the JPDO itself does not have budgetary authority, this approach substantially increases the amount of resources available to develop NGATS. Already, the total staff effort involved in the JPDO and the IPTs far exceeds what the JPDO could fund itself. Even so, the current IPT organization creates some difficulties. As described in the following section, linkages among the IPTs are numerous, and they must be carefully managed. In addition, there is a mismatch between how the operational concepts and the IPTs are organized. NGATS research, development, and implementation would be more effective if they were focused on key items necessary to assess and implement the operational concepts. As with the operational concepts, safety and security would be enhanced if they were incorporated into the other IPTs. The current IPT structure—having one IPT for each transformation strategy—accomplishes three objectives: Facilitates the distribution of IPT responsibilities among the agencies involved in the JPDO.
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Technology Pathways: Assessing the Integrated Plan for a Next Generation Air Transportation System Clearly shows that the JPDO recognizes the importance of safety, security, weather, and other key elements of an air transportation system. Provides a convenient forum for all of the parties involved in each element of the air transportation system to exchange information. Nonetheless, this structure hinders and is inconsistent with an optimal, product-oriented approach for organizing an air transportation system research and acquisition program. The current structure also works against the idea of forming multidisciplinary integrated product teams, in that most of the IPTs are discipline-specific. Furthermore, the second and third objectives listed above could be accomplished more effectively in other ways. For example, many aviation safety groups already exist in government, industry, and academia. The JPDO could rely on one or more of these as a center of excellence for aviation safety management, and the Master IPT and/or the NGATS Institute could include representatives of centers of excellence in safety, weather, etc., to provide expertise and advice. Quick action to restructure the IPTs is needed to prevent the current structure from becoming institutionalized and incorporated into the long-term plans of the federal agencies involved in the JPDO. In addition, the Master IPT seems to function primarily as an administrative coordinating body. Successful development and implementation of NGATS is unlikely unless the JPDO develops a stronger system engineering and integration function and a larger permanent staff for the Master IPT and the eight subordinate IPTs. In almost all cases, the IPT heads work only part-time on JPDO activities, and in some cases they still carry a full workload from the departmental positions they held before they were appointed as IPT heads. Asking senior departmental officials to serve as IPT heads increases the likelihood that departments and agencies involved in the JPDO will support the plans of the IPTs. On the other hand, it makes it impossible for the IPT heads to devote themselves fully to the difficult task of developing and implementing IPT plans. Finding 4-1. IPT Organization. Even though the current IPTs have multiagency membership, they are functioning primarily as experts in specific disciplines rather than as cross-functional, integrated, multidisciplinary teams that can deliver specific products to improve operational capabilities of the air transportation system. Recommendation 4-1. IPT Organization. As soon as possible, the JPDO’s IPT organization should be modified to better support the core goal of meeting increased demand in each phase of operation by structuring the IPT organization to match the structure recommended for the operational concepts. All of the current IPTs (except for the Master IPT) should be disbanded and replaced with three new IPTs: Airport Operations IPT Terminal Area Operations IPT En Route and Oceanic Operations IPT Linkages Sections 7.1 through 7.8 of the Integrated Plan describe the IPTs and the transformation strategy associated with each IPT. Included in the description of each IPT is a list of cross-strategy linkages. Table 4-1 shows all of these linkages. An “O” marks the strategy for which an IPT in the leftmost column is responsible. Each “X” in the row for a particular IPT shows what other strategies/IPTs that IPT will coordinate TABLE 4-1 IPT Linkages Depicted in Chapter 7 of the Integrated Plan IPT NGATS Transformation Strategies 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 Airport Infrastructure Security System Agile Air Traffic System Situational Awareness Safety Management Approach Environmental Protection Reduce Weather Impacts Harmonize Globally 7.1 O X X X X X X X 7.2 O X X X X X 7.3 X O X X X X X 7.4 X X O X X X 7.5 X X X X O X X X 7.6 X X O X 7.7 X X X X X O X 7.8 X X X X X X O NOTE: “O” indicates the strategy for which the particular IPT is responsible; “X” indicates the cross-strategy linkage with the other IPT strategy areas to coordinate work.
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Technology Pathways: Assessing the Integrated Plan for a Next Generation Air Transportation System with (according to the Integrated Plan). Table 4-1 shows that each IPT is expected to interface with and is dependent on the progress made in virtually every other IPT. And in some cases where linkages are not shown, they should be. For example, the IPT described in section 7.2 (Security System) has an open box under column 1, Airport Infrastructure, meaning there is no linkage between security and airport infrastructure. But IPT 7.1 (Airport Infrastructure) has an “X” under column 2 (Security System), meaning there is a linkage between these two IPTs/strategies. Inconsistencies such as these should be identified and corrected. The current situation, in which every IPT interacts with almost every other IPT, means that interactions among the IPTs, as they are currently organized, are both exceedingly important and potentially very complex. A considerable effort may be needed to ensure that each of the existing IPTs is effectively coordinated with the other IPTs. In addition to the many interactions among the IPTs, the potential exists for a large amount of overlapping work. As described in the Integrated Plan, many of the IPTs are addressing the same issues, such as security, situational awareness, global and national standards, policies and procedures, airport infrastructure, weather, communication and navigation systems, and regulatory authorities. Without effective coordination, multiple IPTs could address the same issues independently, creating study groups and research projects that duplicate efforts and waste time and money. These problems would be mitigated by consolidating the eight existing IPTs into three IPTs, consistent with the recommended scheme for restructuring the operational concepts. In any case, the Integrated Plan would be improved if it described how the IPTs will work together to manage overlapping areas of interest and avoid redundancies. In particular, it is essential that the JPDO’s Master IPT provide a strong system integration and engineering function and work effectively with the other IPTs in setting IPT requirements. At a minimum, this requires that the head of each IPT have the skills needed to manage an interdisciplinary project, and the head of the Master IPT should possess the skills, expertise, and system-of-systems experience typical of the program manager for a major aerospace product development program. Finding 4-2. IPT Linkages. As currently organized, none of the IPTs interact sufficiently with all of the other IPTs with which they have shared responsibilities. The current IPT structure creates a potential for substantial overlap and duplication of effort. The recommended restructuring of IPTs would solve this problem. CORE TECHNOLOGIES AND PROCESSES In general, new technologies and processes should be tailored to meet the needs of validated operational concepts, but some are certain to be of value regardless of the operational concepts ultimately selected, and their development should proceed even as the operational concepts are being defined and assessed. Examples of these generally applicable technologies and processes are as follows: Automation technologies applicable to fully automated systems; decision aids; and information systems for communication, visualization, situation assessment, and the prediction of future conditions. Technologies that support distributed, collaborative decision making and foster coordination and interactions among multiple human and automated elements of the system. Methods and technologies for moderating and abating the impact of noise and emissions locally, regionally, and globally. Methods and technologies for predicting or directly sensing the magnitude, duration, and location of wake vortices, to support the goal of reducing separation standards without compromising safety. Methods for identifying (1) the information required for situational awareness when humans are assigned novel (untried) tasks in future operational concepts and (2) sensor, computing, and display technologies for better supporting situational awareness, judgment, decision making, and planning. Relevant technologies may include synthetic vision, cockpit and controller displays for novel ATM functions, fast-time simulation and computational functions for predicting future conditions, and alerting systems. These methods and technologies should be investigated for their potential to (1) reduce separation standards without compromising safety and (2) enable changes in the roles of humans within the system. Systems-engineering methods that are (1) capable of conceiving and analyzing systems as complex as the air transportation system and (2) suitable for governing the design, testing, and implementation of these systems. Avionics technologies that will provide ubiquitous and transparent communication, navigation, and surveillance capabilities; enable cost-effective, reliable ATM; and contribute to the reduction of separation standards without compromising safety (NRC, 2002). Finding 4-3. Core Research. Adequate support of all core technologies and processes upon which the Next Generation Air Transportation System will be built is crucial to validate the Integrated Plan. Recommendation 4-2. Core Research. The NASA administrator should continue—and the Senior Policy Committee and the JPDO should advocate for continuation of—research on core technologies and processes, including automation and human factors, necessary to develop the Next Generation Air Transportation System.
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Technology Pathways: Assessing the Integrated Plan for a Next Generation Air Transportation System AUTOMATION AND HUMAN FACTORS A wide range of research, including basic research, proof-of-concept testing, and simulation and modeling, is needed to maximize the benefit of automation technologies, in part by more clearly articulating the role of humans vis-à-vis automation. Research should be used to increase both the capabilities of automated systems and the understanding of how and when automated systems can be profitably employed as well as the conditions under which they should be avoided. Automation should be designed into systems in ways that lead to high reliability and graceful degradation when system components fail. Like safety and security, human factors should be incorporated into the operational concepts and the restructured IPTs from the beginning. This would ensure, for example, that the tasks assigned to pilots, controllers, and other system operators are reasonable and appropriate, that interfaces with automated systems are well conceived and executed, and that efforts to improve situational awareness are likely to succeed. System designers must resist the temptation to provide more automated features and give more information to system operators just because they can; more automation does not always increase safety or reliability, and more information does not always improve situational awareness or operational decisions. RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY LEVELS In some research and technology areas described in the report, the state of the art is so advanced that industry could quickly begin product development. In other areas, basic research is needed to acquire necessary knowledge and technological capabilities. In each area of planned research, the gap between the status of current technology and the status envisioned by NGATS should be understood and a plan developed to bridge that gap. In some areas, this could be a substantial problem, given the well-documented problem that basic research programs often do not mature promising new technologies to the point where managers in industry are ready and willing to take over responsibility for advanced research and product development. This can also be a problem when transitioning technology from a federal agency focused on research (such as NASA) to another federal agency focused on operations (such as the FAA). The IPTs should develop a transition plan with clear criteria defining states of technological readiness for each technology that may encounter this problem. AIRPORT IMPROVEMENTS The Integrated Plan’s transformation strategy for airports is titled “Develop Airport Infrastructure to Meet Future Demand.” This title expresses both the goal (enable airports to meet future demand) and the approach (develop new infrastructure). As described in the Integrated Plan, the associated Airport Infrastructure IPT will focus on infrastructure improvements and expansion of airports. By omission, these plans seem to discount the ability to increase the capacity of existing airports by procedural changes such as those enabled by (1) the timely dissemination of precise information related to the position and velocity of aircraft, adverse weather, wake vortices, and the state of the air transportation system and (2) aircraft and ground facilities equipped to use this information effectively. Building new airports and new runways (especially if current procedural constraints on separation standards between parallel runways do not allow new runways to fit on existing airport property) is extraordinarily expensive and can take decades to complete. And in many areas, land for airport expansions and new airports is simply unavailable. Environmental issues also limit the ability of airports to expand their infrastructure. During the 1990s, environmental issues forced 12 of the nation’s 50 busiest commercial airports to cancel or indefinitely postpone expansion projects (GAO, 2000). Thus, solutions that substantially increase the capacity of existing runways are potentially quite advantageous. Large payoffs would also result from the ability to conduct independent flight operations on closely spaced parallel runways in limited visibility using the performance-based area navigation and flight management capabilities in many existing aircraft. Eighteen of the nation’s 35 busiest airports are already at capacity limits or will reach capacity limits sometime in the next 15 years (FAA, 2004). One aspect of the effort to enable airports to meet higher demand might be to conduct an airport-specific analysis of impediments to higher capacity at these airports. The analysis would investigate solutions that are (1) generally applicable or (2) must be tailored to individual airports. The latter will tend to be more expensive than the former on a per airport basis, but both types of solutions should be considered. In general, the most effective solutions are likely to involve an integrated approach that involves aircraft and ATM technologies, procedures, and standards, including those related to required navigation performance (RNP) and area navigation (RNAV) capabilities. AIRCRAFT NOISE, EMISSIONS, AND WATER QUALITY Notwithstanding changes in demand, the air transportation system must continue to satisfy environmental requirements related to aircraft noise, local and global impacts of engine emissions, and water quality. Efforts to satisfy higher demand should include a balanced strategy for improving technologies, operational procedures, and policies related to environmental performance of the air transportation system. Achieving these improvements would be facilitated by the development of (1) improved metrics that better reflect the impacts of technologies, operational procedures, and policies and (2) improved tools that facilitate the assessment of inter-
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Technology Pathways: Assessing the Integrated Plan for a Next Generation Air Transportation System dependencies and trade-offs. The environmental strategy should also include a global perspective, because commercial aircraft are manufactured for a global market and buyers expect them to be compatible with the global air transportation system. Research to improve the environmental performance of aircraft will likely remain the domain of domestic and foreign aircraft and engine manufacturers, research institutions, and government agencies, such as NASA and the Department of Defense. The environmental strategy should recognize that aircraft and engine manufacturers generally respond to four major drivers: safety and reliability issues legislation and regulatory standards, including standards for noise and emissions competitive and economic pressures on fuel consumption, noise, maintainability, etc. customer needs and field service issues The assessment committee received a five-page summary of plans under development by the Environmental Protection IPT for FY 2007 to 2011. This summary, which appears in Appendix G, describes a strategy that is well thought out, appropriate, and consistent with the above guidance. Although the information contained in the summary is preliminary, it describes a credible way forward and should be incorporated into future editions of the Integrated Plan. Further, the Environmental Protection IPT is to be commended for adopting a process that begins by defining initial goals, key uncertainties and risks (including uncertainties in the NGATS architecture), programmatic priorities, and the other topics included in its plan.1 The general processes employed by this IPT and the structure of its plan would serve as useful models for the other IPTs. GLOBAL HARMONIZATION Global harmonization of NGATS will require that harmonization issues be considered in the development of each operational concept and each IPT. A willingness to maximize the use of existing technologies and procedures, including foreign technology, even when that technology must be licensed for use by the U.S. air transportation system, would facilitate the development of new capabilities by reducing costs and schedule (relative to an approach that duplicates research that has already been completed overseas) and by building in harmonization (to the extent that technologies and procedures already in use by other countries are adopted into the U.S. air transportation system). Failure to collaborate would reduce the international competitiveness of U.S. aircraft and ATM technology if standards sponsored by foreign organizations became the global standard. Global harmonization is a high priority and cannot be accomplished by a small interdepartmental office such as the JPDO without the active involvement of other federal agencies, including the FAA and NASA, and the support of both the administration and the U.S. Congress. Finding 4-4. Global Collaboration. U.S. leadership in fostering a substantial increase in collaboration with foreign organizations in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere would facilitate development of the Next Generation Air Transportation System and help ensure the competitiveness of U.S. aircraft and air traffic management technology. Recommendation 4-3. Global Collaboration. The FAA administrator and the secretary of transportation should immediately undertake a more vigorous effort to lead development of the Next Generation Air Transportation System in collaboration with foreign governments and institutions. This should include jointly funded, collaborative research to define NGATS operational concepts suitable for global implementation. REFERENCES Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 2004. Capacity Needs in the National Airspace System. Washington, D.C.: FAA. Available online at <www.faa.gov/arp/publications/reports/index.cfm>. General Accounting Office (GAO). 2000. Aviation and the Environment—Results from a Survey of the Nation’s 50 Busiest Commercial Service Airports. Washington, D.C.: GAO. Available online at <www.gao.gov/new.items/rc00222.pdf>. 1 The Environmental Protection IPT has also estimated funding requirements for FY 2007 to 2011, but that information was not provided to the assessment committee.
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