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Due regard encounter model version 1.0

Published in:
MIT Lincoln Laboratory Report ATC-397

Summary

Airspace encounter models describe encounter situations that may occur between aircraft in the airspace and are a critical component of safety assessment of sense and avoid (SAA) systems for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs). Some UAS will fly in international airspace under due regard and may encounter other aircraft during these operations. In these types of encounters, the intruder aircraft is likely receiving air traffic control (ATC) services, but the UAS is not. Thus, there is a need for a due regard encounter model that can be used to generate these types of encounters. This report describes the development of a due regard encounter model. In order to build the model, Lincoln Laboratory collected data for aircraft flying in international airspace using the Enhanced Traffic Management System (ETMS) data feed that was provided by the Volpe Center. Lincoln processed these data, and extracted important features to construct the model. The model is based on Bayesian networks that represent the probabilistic relationship between variables that describe how aircraft behave. The model is used to construct random aircraft trajectories that are statistically similar to those observed in the airspace. A large collection of encounters generated from an airspace encounter model can be used to evaluate the performance of a SAA system against encounter situations representative of those expected to actually occur in the airspace. Lincoln Laboratory has previously developed several other encounter models. There is an uncorrelated encounter model that is used to generate encounters with an intruder that does not have a transponder, or between two aircraft using a Mode A code of 1200 (VFR). There is also a correlated encounter model that is used when both aircraft have a transponder and at least one aircraft is in contact with ATC. Both of these models were built from radar data collected from the National Airspace System (NAS). There is also an unconventional encounter model that is used to generate encounters with unconventional intruders such as gliders, balloons, and airships--these vehicles have different flight characteristics than conventional aircraft. The framework used to construct the due regard encounter model described in this paper is similar to the prior models. The primary difference is that a different data feed is used and the model covers encounters in international flight where the aircraft of interest is flying due regard, which were not within the scope of prior models. Separate electronic files are available from Lincoln Laboratory that contain the statistical data required to generate encounter trajectories.
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Summary

Airspace encounter models describe encounter situations that may occur between aircraft in the airspace and are a critical component of safety assessment of sense and avoid (SAA) systems for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs). Some UAS will fly in international airspace under due regard and may encounter other aircraft during these...

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Optimized airborne collision avoidance in mixed equipage environments

Published in:
MIT Lincoln Laboratory Report ATC-408

Summary

Developing robust collision avoidance logic that reliably prevents collision without excessive alerting is challenging due to sensor error and uncertainty in the future paths of the aircraft. Over the past few years, research has focused on the use of a computational method known as dynamic programming for producing an optimized decision logic for airborne collision avoidance. This report focuses on recent research on coordination, interoperability, and multiple-threat encounters. The methodology presented in this report results in logic that is safer and performs better than legacy TCAS. Modeling and simulation indicate that the proposed methodology can bring significant benefit to the current airspace and can support the need for safe, non-disruptive collision protection as the airspace continues to evolve.
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Summary

Developing robust collision avoidance logic that reliably prevents collision without excessive alerting is challenging due to sensor error and uncertainty in the future paths of the aircraft. Over the past few years, research has focused on the use of a computational method known as dynamic programming for producing an optimized...

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Measurements of the 1030 and 1090 MHz environments at JFK International Airport

Summary

Measurements of signals in the 1030 and 1090 MHz frequency bands have been made by MIT Lincoln Laboratory in the last several years, previously in the Boston area and most recently in April 2011, at JFK International Airport near New York City. This JFK measurement activity was performed as a part of the Lincoln Laboratory Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) work for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and is the subject of this report. This report includes: 1) Overall characteristics of the 1030/1090 MHz environments, 2) Analysis of the TCAS air-to-air coordination process, 3) Examination of 1090 MHz Extended Squitter transmissions for use in TCAS, 4) Assessment of the extent and impact of TCAS operation on the airport surface.
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Summary

Measurements of signals in the 1030 and 1090 MHz frequency bands have been made by MIT Lincoln Laboratory in the last several years, previously in the Boston area and most recently in April 2011, at JFK International Airport near New York City. This JFK measurement activity was performed as a...

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A safety driven approach to the development of an airborne sense and avoid system

Published in:
AIAA Infotech at Aerospace Conf. and Exhibit, 19-21 June 2012.

Summary

Sense and avoid is the primary technical barrier to increased unmanned aircraft system airspace access. A safety assessment driven approach to sense and avoid system design and requirements validation is being employed to ensure safety and operational suitability. The foundation of this approach is a fast-time modeling and simulation architecture originally used to support the certification of the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System. This paper describes the safety assessment methodology, including the architecture and evaluation metrics, and presents preliminary results for key system architecture and design tradeoffs.
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Summary

Sense and avoid is the primary technical barrier to increased unmanned aircraft system airspace access. A safety assessment driven approach to sense and avoid system design and requirements validation is being employed to ensure safety and operational suitability. The foundation of this approach is a fast-time modeling and simulation architecture...

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Next-generation airborne collision avoidance system

Published in:
Lincoln Laboratory Journal, Vol. 19, No. 1, 2012, pp. 17-33.

Summary

In response to a series of midair collisions involving commercial airliners, Lincoln Laboratory was directed by the Federal Aviation Administration in the 1970s to participate in the development of an onboard collision avoidance system. In its current manifestation, the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System is mandated worldwide on all large aircraft and has significantly improved the safety of air travel, but major changes to the airspace planned over the coming years will require substantial modification to the system. Recently, Lincoln Laboratory has been pioneering the development of a new approach to collision avoidance systems that completely rethinks how such systems are engineered, allowing the system to provide a higher degree of safety without interfering with normal, safe operations.
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Summary

In response to a series of midair collisions involving commercial airliners, Lincoln Laboratory was directed by the Federal Aviation Administration in the 1970s to participate in the development of an onboard collision avoidance system. In its current manifestation, the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System is mandated worldwide on all...

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A new approach for designing safer collision avoidance systems

Published in:
Air Traffic Control Q., Vol. 20, No. 1, January 2012, pp. 27-45.

Summary

The Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System significantly reduces the risk of mid-air collision and is mandated worldwide on transport aircraft. Engineering the avoidance logic was costly and spanned decades. The development followed an iterative process where the logic was specified using pseudocode, evaluated in simulation, and revised based on performance against a set of metrics. Modifying the logic is difficult because the pseudocode contains many heuristic rules that interact in complex ways. With the introduction of next-generation air traffic control procedures and surveillance systems, the logic will require significant revision to prevent unnecessary alerts. Recent work has explored an approach for designing collision avoidance systems that will shorten the development cycle, improve maintainability, and enhance safety with fewer false alerts. The approach involves computationally deriving optimized logic from encounter models and performance metrics. This paper outlines the approach and discusses the anticipated impact on development, safety, and operation.
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Summary

The Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System significantly reduces the risk of mid-air collision and is mandated worldwide on transport aircraft. Engineering the avoidance logic was costly and spanned decades. The development followed an iterative process where the logic was specified using pseudocode, evaluated in simulation, and revised based on...

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Decomposition methods for optimized collision avoidance with multiple threats

Published in:
DASC 2011, 30th IEEE/AIAA Digital Avionics Systems Conference, 16-20 October 2011, pp. 1D2.

Summary

Aircraft collision avoidance systems assist in the resolution of collision threats from nearby aircraft by issuing avoidance maneuvers to pilots. Encounters where multiple aircraft pose a threat, though rare, can be difficult to resolve because a maneuver that might resolve a conflict with one aircraft might induce conflicts with others. Recent efforts to develop robust collision avoidance systems for single-threat encounters have involved modeling the problem as a Markov decision process and applying dynamic programming to solve for the optimal avoidance strategy. Because this methodology does not scale well to multiple threats, this paper evaluates a variety of decomposition methods that leverage the optimal avoidance strategy for single-threat encounters.
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Summary

Aircraft collision avoidance systems assist in the resolution of collision threats from nearby aircraft by issuing avoidance maneuvers to pilots. Encounters where multiple aircraft pose a threat, though rare, can be difficult to resolve because a maneuver that might resolve a conflict with one aircraft might induce conflicts with others...

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Collision avoidance for general aviation

Published in:
30th AIAA/IEEE Digital Avionics Systems Conf., 16-20 October 2011.

Summary

The Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) is mandated on all large transport aircraft to reduce mid-air collision risk. Since its introduction, no mid-air collisions between TCAS-equipped aircraft have occurred in the United States. However, General Aviation (GA) aircraft are generally not equipped with TCAS and experience collisions several times per year. There is interest in low-cost collision avoidance systems for GA aircraft to reduce collision risk with other GA aircraft as well as with TCAS-equipped aircraft. Since TCAS was designed for large aircraft that can achieve greater vertical rates, the assumptions made by the system and the associated advisories are not always appropriate for GA aircraft. Modifying the TCAS logic to accommodate GA aircraft is far from straightforward. Even minor changes to TCAS to correct operational issues are difficult to implement due to the interaction of the complex rules defining the logic. Recent work has explored an alternative to the TCAS logic based on optimization with respect to a probabilistic model of aircraft behavior. The model encodes performance constraints of GA aircraft, and a computational technique called dynamic programming allows the optimal collision avoidance strategy to be computed efficiently. Prior work has focused on systems that meet the performance assumptions of the existing TCAS logic. However, these assumptions are not always appropriate for GA aircraft. This paper will present simulation results comparing the existing logic to logic that has been optimized to operate onboard GA aircraft. If both aircraft are equipped with collision avoidance logic, it is important that the advisories be coordinated to prevent both aircraft from climbing or descending. The TCAS logic has a built-in coordination mechanism with which a GA system must maintain compatibility. Several coordination strategies, both with the optimized logic and the current logic, are evaluated in simulation.
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Summary

The Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) is mandated on all large transport aircraft to reduce mid-air collision risk. Since its introduction, no mid-air collisions between TCAS-equipped aircraft have occurred in the United States. However, General Aviation (GA) aircraft are generally not equipped with TCAS and experience collisions several...

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Analysis of open-loop and closed-loop planning for aircraft collision avoidance

Published in:
2011 14th Int. IEEE Conf. on Intelligent Transportation Systems, 5-7 October 2011, pp. 212-217.

Summary

Open-loop planning has been a popular approach for developing aircraft collision avoidance systems. Open-loop planning computes a future plan to follow without anticipation of how future observations can affect the future course of action. Closed-loop planning, in contrast, takes into account the ability to react to future information. This paper explores trade-offs that exist between the two strategies as they apply to aircraft collision avoidance. It demonstrates some of the performance gains that con be realized by adopting a closed-loop planning strategy.
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Summary

Open-loop planning has been a popular approach for developing aircraft collision avoidance systems. Open-loop planning computes a future plan to follow without anticipation of how future observations can affect the future course of action. Closed-loop planning, in contrast, takes into account the ability to react to future information. This paper...

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Establishing a risk-based separation standard for unmanned aircraft self separation

Published in:
11th AIAA Aviation Technology, Integration, and Operations (ATIO) Conf., 20-22 September 2011.

Summary

Unmanned Aircraft Systems require an ability to sense and avoid other air traffic to gain access to civil airspace and meet requirements in civil aviation regulations. One sense and avoid function is self separation, which requires that aircraft remain well clear. An approach is proposed in this paper to treat well clear as a separation standard, thus posing it as a relative state between aircraft where the risk of collision first reaches an unacceptable level. By this approach, an analytically-derived boundary for well clear can be derived that supports rigorous safety assessment. A preliminary boundary is proposed in both time and distance for the well clear separation standard, and recommendations for future work are made.
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Summary

Unmanned Aircraft Systems require an ability to sense and avoid other air traffic to gain access to civil airspace and meet requirements in civil aviation regulations. One sense and avoid function is self separation, which requires that aircraft remain well clear. An approach is proposed in this paper to treat...

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