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Assessing the Research and Development Plan for the Next Generation Air Transportation System: Summary of a Workshop 3 Specific Observations and Research Questions Raised In addition to the general issues evident in discussion at the workshop, a number of specific research questions were raised and observations made by individual workshop participants. These reflect concerns that individual participants would like to see addressed as part of the NextGen program, although it should also be noted that some of the items listed below may, in fact, already be represented in the next version of the IWP. The specific questions are presented as they were raised at the workshop, and so are presented chronologically in the sections that follow. AIRPORT OPERATIONS AND SUPPORT Does NextGen address all causes of airport disruption (e.g., irregular operations from things such as ramp closure due to lightning or inefficiencies in individual airlines running de-icing programs)? Has there been any work on, or discussion of, placing wayports (airports built away from urban centers in order to decrease congestion there) or deciding where to place new hub airports? Are mechanisms for expedited environmental reviews of airports being investigated? Is there a way to address how best to communicate with local communities about environmental impacts? Is research needed to determine how airport advocacy can be undertaken? Might further discussion identify topics for needed research that have not yet been raised? For example, Does the introduction of new aircraft such as the Boeing 787 allow expansion of city pairs? What might be the impact on how city pairs will work? Is JPDO modeling better ways to load passengers and baggage? Is there investigation of how existing ramp space is used? How much efficiency could be gained by allowing airlines to use open gates belonging to other airlines when their own gates are full? If airports could run all gates, counters, etc., would this lead to improvements in efficiency and effectiveness? How can best practices at individual airports be identified and shared among airports and the JPDO? What clever airport designs are possible that would be approvable? AIR NAVIGATION OPERATIONS, AIR NAVIGATION SUPPORT, AND FLIGHT OPERATION SUPPORT How are new systems changing training requirements and training technology? Embedded in this program are assumptions about equipage costs. The hidden cost of crew training needs to be acknowledged. What makes economic sense?
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Assessing the Research and Development Plan for the Next Generation Air Transportation System: Summary of a Workshop Are there collaborations being established to accomplish goals in Global Positioning System procurement? ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT NextGen ideas run from totally automated execution to totally human (manual) execution. Research is needed to identify human factors issues now. It is particularly important to focus on who is in charge. The environmental challenge is both an execution issue and a policy issue. NextGen is a technology issue (i.e., what is possible?) Are there any radically different or revolutionary ideas about what constitutes an aircraft (e.g., modular airplanes or systems)? Does the plan take into account how new systems enter the aviation system? Can planners be opportunistic in introducing new functionality? How can the changes that systems must accommodate be limited to one rather than several? Is there concern with legacy aircraft and/or concern with continuing to hire for the current air traffic management system rather than for future aircraft and NextGen? Is it recognized that having only one concept for the future is a problem? What skills will be needed 10 years out? What human factors work is needed to understand what criteria are important to guide hiring? POSITIONING, NAVIGATION, TIMING SERVICES, AND SURVEILLANCE Can the Department of Homeland Security (namely, the Coast Guard) help by providing a standard for the enhanced long-range navigation system (eLORAN)? What are the developmental issues for eLORAN? What is the performance of the systems? What are the limits on accuracy? How much can be invested? Do systems have backward compatibility? How will satellite constellations and their placement affect performance? WEATHER INFORMATION SERVICES The current system is brittle. Failure can suddenly occur when perturbations occur in the system (e.g., bad weather). Can JPDO “spec out” a less brittle system? Is there any research that is investigating the extent to which a conflict between “official” and “airline” sources of weather information will lead to problems? What research will be done to explore necessary levels of spatial and temporal resolution? What happens when a pilot is routed through a weather cell? What is the impact on other planes routed in that area? What is the pilot’s responsibility for decision making on going through a cell? Are clearances/trajectories advisory or compulsory? How does the industry develop insurance for mitigation of risk? Is there any research planned to investigate consumer reaction to changes in departure times for weather/other potential delays? Is sufficient research being planned and conducted in the areas of data handling and communications as applied to weather information?
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Assessing the Research and Development Plan for the Next Generation Air Transportation System: Summary of a Workshop What research is needed on how to pass information in a universal language (e.g., how to define terms such as “moderate turbulence” or “heavy turbulence”)? NASA is looking at the integration of uncertainty and trajectories, but is that enough? Is there sufficient connectivity between the JPDO and the U.S. Air Force and the rest of DOD, and with FAA operations planning? Is enough known about the passing of critical information, not just for weather but in all areas? Is research being done on the policy issue of how much money should be invested, against predicted benefits? What is the cost trade-off, and who will decide what level of investment is acceptable for a given level of benefit? How will consistency across distributed databases be ensured? How will databases be brought together? How will the correct level of resolution be arrived at? How will that information be used strategically? What plans are in place for dealing with the legal and privacy concerns related to data maintained in air traffic system databases and used in the investigation of accidents, for example? What needs to be done for airlines to be comfortable with the direct sharing of weather information or with having one source of weather information? SAFETY MANAGEMENT What tools can be included in NextGen that will help end users (e.g., airlines, airports, pilots) to understand, use, and manage the safety-related data they collect? Users often do not have the tools or analytical sophistication to effectively use the safety-related data they collect. How can the real-time monitoring of safety data be decoupled from the later analysis of the data? What tools can be included or developed that will help end users to mine and analyze safety-related text data including, e.g., text data from mechanics together with that from crew members? Is the plan connected to current NASA work on text data decoding? What can be done to address the concern that flight data recorders do not capture pilot intent when an automated system is being worked with, thus making it difficult to analyze data? What studies can be done to identify better ways to understand the relationship between the discrete data elements from the flight data recorder and the wider picture of what pilots are trying to achieve while using automated systems? Is research planned to ensure that the positive features of existing air traffic control systems are being identified for incorporation into new systems? Is this approach a real part of the NextGen plan, rather than just a general principle to be followed? Is there sufficient research being done or planned toward developing methodologies for predictive risk assessment? What level of safety in risk assessment is optimal? Should safety risk assessments be conducted that consider relative rather than absolute safety? Is a mechanism being developed to specify and approve things that are relatively safer rather than absolutely safe? How can safety research be aimed at achieving specific improvements? What are the different mechanisms for achieving closely spaced parallel runways, and for ensuring equivalent safety? How can it be determined which proposed approaches allow for equivalent or improved safety performance? How will the difficult issue of relative versus absolute safety be addressed? There is the trap of proving the current system is okay or safe.
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Assessing the Research and Development Plan for the Next Generation Air Transportation System: Summary of a Workshop It is often difficult to find a justification for current standards. The standards often don’t reflect policy (e.g., prevent wake encounters, but change spacing requirements as a function of type of aircraft). NETWORK-CENTRIC INFRASTRUCTURE SERVICES AND OPERATIONS Are testing and evaluation incorporated into the plan for validation? Are there R&D plans for studying the performance scalability and interoperability of the solutions proposed? How will the lexicons be investigated to bridge communication gaps that exist due to terminology differences? What research is needed to identify win-win situations for outsiders sharing informationto identify benefits of information sharingdespite the difficulty of building a business model for sharing information? Is anyone studying the problem of conveying constraints that are imposed when a system designed for a specific purpose is then used for another purpose (e.g., sharing information taken from one domain in another domain with another interface)? How does one understand the value of information, which is separate from the ability to share information? Is research being done to ensure that when systems fail, they fail “soft”? What are the technical, economic, and organizational mechanisms that should to be put in place to support the new levels of government-industry communications that will be required under NextGen? LAYERED, ADAPTIVE SECURITY How can security issues be integrated across different JPDO working groups when security is layered in some applications, and not in others? Has off-site luggage handling been modeled? How can it work and can it work in high-load airports with limited real estate? Is this work connected to that of other JPDO working groups? Are the security plans out of proportion to the risk? Would security funding be better spent addressing safety issues?
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Assessing the Research and Development Plan for the Next Generation Air Transportation System: Summary of a Workshop Appendixes
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