Airspace encounter models for conventional and unconventional aircraft
Collision avoidance systems play an important role in the future of aviation safety. Before new technologies on board manned or unmanned aircraft are deployed, rigorous analysis using encounter simulations is required to prove system robustness. These simulations rely on models that accurately reflect the geometries and dynamics of aircraft encounters at close range. These types of encounter models have been developed by several organizations since the early 1980s. Lincoln Laboratory's newer encounter models, however, provide a higher-fidelity representation of encounters, are based on substantially more data, leverage a theoretical framework for finding optimal model structures, and reflect recent changes in the airspace. Three categories of encounter model were developed by Lincoln Laboratory. Two of these categories are used for modeling conventional aircraft; one involving encounters with prior air traffic control intervention and one without. The third category of encounter model is for encounters with unconventional aircraft -- such as gliders, skydivers, balloons, and airships -- that typically do not carry transponders. Together, these encounter models are being used to examine the safety and effectiveness of aircraft collision avoidance systems and as a foundation for algorithms for future manned and unmanned systems.