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NASA air traffic control software to improve spacing between planes

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July 16, 2014

NASA's Terminal Sequencing and Spacing (TSS) software enables better management of the spa...

NASA's Terminal Sequencing and Spacing (TSS) software enables better management of the spacing between planes

As with all technology, the tools used for air traffic control are always improving. Recently, for example, it was announced that the first remote air traffic control tower would open in Sweden. In a smaller evolution, NASA has provided the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with software to better manage the spacing between planes.

Terminal Sequencing and Spacing (TSS) technology enables the routine use of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures. PBN was developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization. It moves aircraft navigation away from the traditional use of ground-based beacons to a system more reliant on airborne technologies.

"PBN will allow the implementation of airspace structures that take advantage of aircraft able to fly more flexible, accurate, repeatable and therefore deterministic three dimensional flight paths using onboard equipment capabilities," explains the UK's Civil Aviation Authority. "It has variously been described as reengineering the way we fly."

The TSS software produced by NASA builds upon PBN standards to reduce the number of course and altitude changes, thereby saving time and fuel and reducing emissions. It provides information to controllers about the speeds they should assign to aircraft for fuel-efficient, continuous-descent arrival paths. The software will also reduce the frequency of communications required between controllers and pilots.

TSS is part of NASA’s work towards the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), which is a cross-industry initiative aimed at modernizing the air traffic control system in the US. The FAA will be rolling out TSS over the next five years with a view to initial operation in 2018.

Source NASA

About the Author
Stu Robarts Stu is a tech writer based in Liverpool, UK. He has previously worked on global digital estate management at Amaze and headed up digital strategy for FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). He likes cups of tea, bacon sandwiches and RSS feeds.   All articles by Stu Robarts
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3 Comments

One hopes that they take full account of the wing-tip vortices, which are invisible and with jumbo jets especially, but not solely, are very powerful. They are the last thing a following pilot want to come across when landing.

Mel Tisdale
17th July, 2014 @ 03:44 am PDT

@Mel Jets follow each other at a long enough distance that the vortices have dissipated enough to not effect the following plane. Pilots are also taught when flying smaller planes to come in with a steeper approach and touch down farther down the runway. Vortices will not be any more of a problem with this system than with any other.

Gabriel Jones
17th July, 2014 @ 08:33 am PDT

Long overdue & needed worldwide, some airports more than others.

Replicate for worldwide

Stephen N Russell
17th July, 2014 @ 03:43 pm PDT
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