The FAA continued a dynamic research and development program in support of its mission to provide a safe, secure, and efficient global aerospace system that contributes to national security and the promotion of U.S. aerospace safety. During the fiscal year, the agency worked with the aviation industry to update the National Airspace System Plan through 2015. The plan is based on the "Free Flight" operational concept in which pilots may choose the most efficient and economical routes to their destinations. The agency continued to acquire new automation systems for the National Airspace System (NAS), installing the Host and Oceanic Computer System Replacement at its 20 air traffic control centers and three oceanic centers. The system provides information on aircraft movements throughout domestic and oceanic airspace, and it is faster and more reliable than its predecessor system. The agency also deployed the Display System Replacement to eight en route centers, replacing 30-year-old equipment and providing enhanced capability to display aircraft position, identification, and weather information, as well as monitor and control system equipment and support planned enhancements to the air traffic control environment.
The agency achieved a major milestone in its Free Flight Phase 1 program in FY 1999 when the Surface Movement Advisor, which provides aircraft arrival information to airline ramp towers and operation centers, became available to airlines at Detroit Metropolitan and Philadelphia International Airports. The agency made two major upgrades to its User Request Evaluation Tool (URET) at the Indianapolis and Memphis air route traffic control centers. URET provides controllers with automatic conflict detection, trial planning for assistance with conflict resolution or user requests, conformance monitoring of current flight trajectory, and some electronic flight data capability. The FAA and NASA researchers also continued joint efforts on air traffic management systems that will enhance the capacity and efficiency of the NAS. For example, NASA is working with the FAA to develop some of the necessary tools to implement Free Flight Phase 1, such as the Passive Final Approach Spacing Tool and the Surface Movement Advisor.
The Safe Flight 21 program, a joint Government-industry initiative designed to validate the capabilities of advanced communication, navigation, and surveillance, as well as air traffic procedures associated with free flight, began demonstrating Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology. In July 1999, 25 aircraft from the Cargo Airline Association, the FAA, avionics manufacturers, universities, the U.S. Navy, and NASA participated in a flight demonstration to begin testing ADS-B. UPS Aviation Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of United Parcel Service, demonstrated its proposed avionics equipment in Bethel, Alaska. As a result of that test, the FAA awarded a $3.9 million contract to UPS Aviation Technologies for state-of-the-art avionics systems, installation kits, terrain data bases, ground-based transceivers, an avionics training simulator, and training assistance. The FAA continued progress toward implementation of the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) that will provide the availability, integrity, and accuracy for the GPS to be used for en route navigation and precision civilian navigation. During the fiscal year, the agency completed a series of Category 1 precision approach test flights at Iceland's Keflavík airport, using signals from both the FAA's WAAS test bed and the United Kingdom's Northern European Satellite Test Bed. The FAA leased three ground reference stations and a master station to the Chilean government for flight testing satellite navigation in Chile. The Chilean government outfitted an aircraft with a GPS receiver to fly precision and nonprecision Category 1 instrument flight rules conditions at the Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Santiago. With support from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, the FAA also installed and tested a WAAS test reference station at Singapore's Changi Airport.
During the fiscal year, the FAA developed and installed in all FAA, DoD, and National Weather Service NEXRAD weather radars, an advanced algorithm that detects tornadoes early in their development and indicates the direction they will move. On the prototype Integrated Terminal Weather System at the Orlando TRACON, the agency installed a convective growth and decay forecast product, which not only predicts thunderstorm movement, based on the storm's track, but also includes the effects of storm growth and decay.
The FAA transferred to industry its Weather Support to Deicing Decision Making (WSDDM) system, a stand-alone, integrated display system developed in response to industry's need for accurate, local weather data to plan and conduct airport deicing operations, and the agency began using the system at LaGuardia Airport. WSDDM uses Doppler radar, surface weather station data, and snow gauges located at and near the airport to determine precipitation type, temperature, wind speed and direction, and the liquid water equivalent of snow.
The FAA released an upgraded version of the Integrated Noise Model (INM) 6.0. INM is the FAA's standard tool for assessing aircraft noise in the vicinity of airports and is the most widely used model of its kind in the world. The FAA and NASA continued research activities under the Atmospheric Effects of Aviation Project (AEAP). The scientific findings from the AEAP served as a significant input to the Special Report on Aviation and the Global Atmosphere published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report indicates that the growing demand for air transportation services may cause aviation's current small contribution to climate change to increase substantially in the future. Scientific understanding of the effects of carbon dioxide is good, while only fair to very poor for the effects of other aircraft emissions on ozone and cloudiness. The report is being used as a basis for policy recommendation by the International Civil Aviation Organization. The two agencies also completed research activities under the Advanced Subsonic Technology program to develop combustor technology to reduce aircraft engine exhaust emissions.
During the fiscal year, the FAA and NASA expanded integrated efforts to reduce the fatal commercial accident rate by 80 percent by 2026. Researchers are working together to better understand and develop technologies to mitigate the effects of phenomena such as wind shear and in-flight icing and to prevent accidents by finding the means to detect potential structural problems in the Nation's aging airline fleet. As part of its safety efforts, the FAA continued advanced research activities in a number of critical aviation safety areas. Researchers developed new stringent fire test criteria for aircraft thermal acoustical insulation aimed at preventing in-flight fires originating in hidden areas of the aircraft. The Aging Non-Structural Systems Research Program formally got under way in FY 1999 to develop a test and validation infrastructure, develop wire testing equipment, assess visual inspection, and develop aircraft arc fault circuit breakers. The agency completed the construction of the Full-Scale Aircraft Structural Test Evaluation and Research facility, which is being used to test fuselage panel specimens under conditions representative of those seen by an aircraft in actual operation.
In addition, the agency released a software code called Design Assessment of Reliability With Inspection (DARWIN) that will improve the structural integrity of turbine engine rotor disks used in commercial aircraft engines by assessing rotor design and life management. The FAA and the Helicopter Association International developed and released a Web-based Maintenance Malfunction Information Reporting system, which allows helicopter operators and repair stations to fulfill FAA Service Difficulty Reporting requirements and create manufacturer warranty claim forms. Researchers at the FAA's Airworthiness Assurance Center of Excellence completed a first-generation PC version of XRSIM, which simulates radiographic (x-ray) inspection of aircraft components and is used during the development of inspection procedures to optimize radiographic inspections. The agency also developed the Web-based Air Personnel Module of Safety Performance Analysis System, which expedites the Aviation Safety Inspector's activities in the areas of certification, recertification, surveillance, and investigation by providing readily accessible information from a variety of data sources and highlighting important information. The agency also certified AlliedSignal TCAS II Version 7, incorporating more than 300 detailed modifications to the surveillance and collision avoidance algorithms and displays in TCAS II avionics equipment.
To learn more about the occurrences and characteristics of freezing drizzle aloft, FAA researchers continued to develop a centralized data base of fine-scale measurements in these kinds of icing conditions. The agency also sponsored the development of a prototype aircraft-mounted wide area ice detection system, which is now installed in the FAA Technical Center's B-727 ground test vehicle for preliminary tests.
In May 1999, an American Eagle commuter aircraft landed long on runway 4R at John F. Kennedy International Airport and stopped 250 feet into a cellular cement arrestor bed, a passive aircraft arrestor system developed and tested by the FAA, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Engineered Systems Company. All 30 people on board escaped injury, and the aircraft experienced only minor damage. In April, the FAA dedicated its new National Airport Pavement Test Facility, designed to provide high-quality, accelerated test data from rigid and flexible pavements subjected to simulated aircraft traffic. In September, the FAA conducted with Boeing the first set of full-scale pavement tests at the facility.
In FY 1999, the FAA developed and initiated an extensive research and development program in the area of wildlife strike mitigation and completed a wildlife control manual, which offers practical solutions to problems of habitat modification and wildlife management. The agency, in conjunction with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, completed a study investigating the effect of tall grass on bird activity at John F. Kennedy International Airport, and it continued to expand the National Wildlife Strike Database, which lists and details wildlife strike reports.
Human factors research continued to increase the safety and efficiency of the NAS by developing guidance for improving the performance of air carrier crews, general aviation pilots, aviation maintenance personnel, air traffic controllers, and NAS system maintenance technicians. Aviation medicine research proceeded with efforts to improve the health, safety, and survivability of aircraft passengers through the development of recommendations for counteracting human failure conditions. During the fiscal year, human factors practitioners researched a new training development methodology that allows air carriers to present unique training and assessment experiences for each flight crew, greatly enhancing training and assessment capabilities and benefits. The FAA, in collaboration with NASA, produced a manual for developing operating documents that provide guidelines on the organization and design of checklists, quick reference handbooks, and guides used on the flight deck. Researchers also developed guidelines on maintenance resource and error management. The human factors research program completed a human-in-the-loop high-fidelity simulation to investigate controller performance and workload impacts resulting from airspace boundary adjustments. Research began on a congressionally directed survey focused on the effects of shiftwork scheduling practices and fatigue in the air traffic system workforce. The human factors program continued to support the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Cabin Air Quality Study ordered by Congress. In addition, researchers developed an analytical technique that employs DNA probes to differentiate blood alcohol intake before death from alcohol produced by the body through natural processes after death. This will prevent incorrect conclusions from accident investigations.
The FAA continued its research and development activities to prevent explosives, weapons, and other threat materials from being introduced onto aircraft. To detect weapons in checked luggage, the FAA worked with industry to certify two new explosives detection systems, the L3 eXaminer 3DX6000 and the InVision CTX9000. Agency researchers synthesized and characterized a new terrorist explosive, triacetone triperoxide (TATP), which recently appeared as a weapon of mass destruction in the Middle East, and adapted the current generation of explosives trace detection systems to detect TATP. The agency also established an explosives standard system (Trace Personnel StandardDry Transfer Method), enabling the evaluation of emerging explosives trace detection technology. In addition, the FAA completed the screener selection test assessment and fielded six perceptual and cognitive tests at 18 major U.S. airports to develop a screener aptitude test to predict future performance of checkpoint security screener candidates. The FAA provided more than 250 copies of the Blast/FX software tool to Government agencies. Blast/FX is a self- contained software package that can be used to model and analyze the effects of a blast on facilities (see the Web site: www.blastfx.com). The agency also conducted two Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Baggage Tag trials, in conjunction with United and Continental Airlines. The tests provided critical operational performance information to support airline efforts to develop an international standard for RFID Baggage Tag use.
The FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation licensed two successful launches by sea launch during the fiscal year. These were the first licensed launches without any involvement from a Federal launch range. Overall, there were 18 launches during the fiscal year that were FAA licensed as commercial, although 2 were failures. The agency also issued a launch operator license to Orbital Sciences Corporation for the first commercial launches from Kwajalein Missile Range, operated by the U.S. Army, in the Marshall Islands, Pacific Ocean, and renewed five launch operator licenses. The FAA and NASA signed a Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Future Space Transportation Systems, which describes the FAA/NASA cooperative activities that will be conducted under the category of future space transportation systems and Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) technology, research, and development.
agency and its Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee released
the 1999 Commercial Space Transportation Forecasts, which project an average
total of 51 commercial space launches per year through 2010, an increase
of over 40 percent from the 36 commercial launches conducted worldwide
in 1998. The agency issued final rules on Financial Responsibility Requirements
for Licensed Launch Activities and Commercial Transportation Licensing
Regulation. It also issued notices of proposed rulemaking on Commercial
Space Transportation Reusable Launch Vehicle and Reentry Licensing Regulation,
Licensing and Safety Requirements for Operation of a Launch Site, and
Financial Responsibility Requirements for Licensed Reentry Activities.
In addition, the FAA published a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact
Statement for Commercial Launch Vehicle Programs as part of its responsibility
under the National Environmental Policy Act.