Initial TASAR Operations Onboard Alaska Airlines

David J. Wing, Kelly A. Burke, Kathryn Ballard, Jeffrey Henderson, Jared Woodward
2019 AIAA Aviation 2019 Forum   unpublished
NASA and Alaska Airlines jointly conducted an operational evaluation of NASA's Traffic Aware Strategic Aircrew Request (TASAR) concept. Featuring a NASA-developed cockpit automation tool, the Traffic Aware Planner (TAP), and leveraging the emerging "connected aircraft" architecture, TASAR enables pilots to identify route changes compatible with nearby traffic and airspace constraints that improve flight efficiency and are more likely to receive Air Traffic Control approval. TASAR was developed
more » ... ASAR was developed in anticipation of saving fuel and flight time, thereby providing immediate and pervasive benefits to the aircraft operator. Following a previously reported, extensive program of integration and preliminary in-flight testing, the operational evaluation of TASAR in revenue service by Alaska Airlines took place from July 2018 to April 2019. This paper describes the operational evaluation, the methodology for quantifying operational benefits, preliminary benefit results, and other unexpected impacts of TASAR operations during revenue flights. Based on the subset of data available at publication, preliminary estimated benefits averaged about $92 per flight across all flights including those without benefit. Identified factors indicate the estimated benefit per flight was likely a conservative estimate. Benefit categories including home runs, cumulative small gains, and plan validation benefits are illustrated with specific examples observed during the operational evaluation. TASAR leverages the emerging revolution of the "connected aircraft" wherein access to operational information by systems onboard and off the aircraft becomes ubiquitous. [1] Technologies such as EFBs, aircraft interface devices (AID), and in-flight connectivity (IFC) solutions offer computing power and unprecedented Internet-Protocol-based connectivity to EFB software applications. Together, they are changing the landscape in which new operational capabilities are envisioned and implemented onboard aircraft. As illustrated in Figure 1 , NASA's TASAR concept [2] features pilot use of a "connected EFB" application with a route optimization engine that consumes data retrieved from multiple sources: 1. onboard flight management system (FMS) (e.g., aircraft state and route data); 2. other onboard avionics systems (e.g., Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) traffic data); and 3. ground-based data sources (e.g., wind forecasts, convective weather products, special use airspace (SUA) activation schedules). Combined with pilot inputs via a graphical user interface, these data are processed by a search algorithm that identifies route optimization opportunities. The flight crew reviews these opportunities and, if appropriate, requests changes in the aircraft's lateral path and/or altitude (i.e. route modification) from air traffic control (ATC). TAP is NASA's prototype of the TASAR route optimization EFB application. [3] Shown in Figure 2 , TAP is a cockpit-based software tool for pilots to identify in-flight route-optimization opportunities that -by also avoiding nearby air traffic, weather, special-use airspace, and other constraints -are more likely to be approved by ATC when requested by the pilot. Leveraging its installation onboard the aircraft with direct access to real-time information about the aircraft's current state, route, and performance parameters, TAP monitors for potential route modifications (lateral path and/or altitude changes) that will improve a user-specified optimization objective, such as saving fuel or saving flight time. The pilot can dynamically update TAP's route optimization objective during a flight. Airlines are typically concerned with minimizing trip cost, which is a variable function of flight time and fuel costs. TAP supports any definition of fuel-and time-based optimization criteria, and its design enables future incorporation of other factors such as turbulence, i.e., ride quality. Using aircraft traffic information from the ADS-B In system, as well as information on airspace winds, weather, restricted airspace status, and other ATC constraints received by airborne internet or other data links, TAP incorporates these constraints into its computation of a set of route-optimization advisories for pilot review. TAP advisories are produced by a hybrid genetic/exhaustive search algorithm and include lateral-only, vertical-only, and combined lateral/vertical route modifications. Based on TAP recommendations, the pilot may make a route modification request to ATC using standard voice-request procedures. Because TAP-generated
doi:10.2514/6.2019-3613 fatcat:2xo56v6y3bgrhch44rzvv2owhy