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Helicopter Pilot Assessments of the Airborne Collision Avoidance System XR with Automated Maneuvering  (2023)
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The Airborne Collision Avoidance System X (ACAS X) is a next-generation collision avoidance tool developed to support different aircraft types and operations. The rotorcraft variant – referred to as ACAS XR – is designed to accommodate existing helicopter platforms as well as in-development, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) models, which are critical to the emerging concept of operations referred to as Advanced Air Mobility. The fundamental role of ACAS XR is to provide Detect and Avoid (DAA) and/or Collision Avoidance (CA) protection against airborne traffic. DAA alerting and guidance in the context of ACAS XR is caution-level and "suggestive," and is to be used by the pilot if, and when, they decide to maneuver against an identified threat to DAA "well clear." The CA alerting, by contrast, is warning-level and "directive," with the pilot required to comply with the associated guidance to prevent a predicted Near Midair Collision (NMAC). The CA alerts generated by ACAS XR are referred to as Resolution Advisories (RAs) consistent with previous CA systems. Unlike earlier CA systems, ACAS XR issues RAs in the horizontal and vertical dimensions as well as multi-axis RAs (referred to as "Blended" RAs). The current study was a human-in-the-loop simulation that presented helicopter pilots with ACAS XR alerts and guidance in a fixed-base eVTOL simulator with varying levels of automation. Objective results showed that pilots complied with all RAs within the expected 5-second time window and responded to DAA alerts quicker than in earlier studies with ACAS XU. No NMACs occurred, and losses of well clear were mainly attributed to the obligation of the pilots and system to maneuver only after the CA phase of the encounter had begun. Objective performance did not vary as a function of the automation variable. Non-compliance with RAs most frequently occurred when pilots determined they were too close to the terrain to continue to follow Descend RAs, performing vertical maneuvers instead of following Horizontal RAs, or rejecting Horizontal RA updates because they felt that enough maneuvering had been performed. Subjectively, pilots found the DAA and RA alerting and guidance intuitive and useful for VFR helicopter operations. Slightly more pilots preferred the Automated RA condition to the Manual RA condition. Caveats and future implications are discussed.
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ACAS, Airborne, Assessments, Automated, Avoidance, Collision, Helicopter, Maneuvering, Pilot, System, X, XR
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In AIAA Aviation 2023 Forum, https://arc.aiaa.org/doi/10.2514/6.2023-3683
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Curator: Phil So
NASA Official: Jessica Nowinski
Last Updated: August 15, 2019