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Airspace Operations Laboratory (AOL) Supports the FAA/NASA Upper Class-E Traffic Management Team (ETM) Tabletop with Industry Operators
(Mar 28, 2024)
In collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), members of NASA's Upper Class-E Traffic Management (ETM) team, contributed to planning, facilitating, and supporting the ETM Operational Intent Sharing Tabletop with high-altitude vehicle operators. Held at NASA Ames Research Center on March 12th and 13th, the tabletop event was attended by vehicle and operations experts from six High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) operators, representing a range of ETM vehicles, including a balloon, airship, and slow- and fast-speed fixed-wing HALE vehicles. These new and innovate vehicles will operate and communicate differently than conventional aircraft, with varying degrees of controllability, diverse performance characteristics, payload constraints, and mission durations lasting weeks to months.

This two-day event focused on Operational Intent sharing and included briefings from the FAA on conventional flight planning and guided question-and-answer sessions with the ETM operators. The goal of these discussions was to identify gaps between the Operational Intent information that ETM operators are able to generate about their vehicles and the type, and format, of information currently used by ATC flight-planning systems. Moderators explored how different operational scenarios could impact what Operational Intent information is available, for example, operating in Class A versus at higher altitudes in Upper Class E, and transitioning between multiple ETM Cooperative Areas throughout a mission. Participants also discussed how a potential third-party service may be used to address Operational Intent sharing gaps by enabling communication between ETM Operators and Air Traffic Control (ATC). Insights from this discussion will help to inform the forthcoming second version of the FAA's ETM Concept of Operations (ConOps).

Since 2019, the FAA and NASA have conducted a series of tabletops with industry stakeholders and other government agencies to further explore and develop aspects of the ETM concept, such as, cooperative traffic management, Cooperative Operating Practices, and strategic conflict detection and resolution. Engagement with industry partners will continue this summer, when the Airspace Operations Laboratory (AOL) supports a Collaborative Evaluation (CE-1) to demonstrate a prototype ETM system.
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Curator: Phil So
NASA Official: Jessica Nowinski
Last Updated: March 18, 2024