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Assessing Helicopter Pilots' Detect and Avoid and Collision Avoidance Performance with ACAS Xr  (2023)
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The latest variant of the Federal Aviation Administration's Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS X) is being designed for both crewed and uncrewed rotorcraft. Referred to as ACAS Xr, the system joins a suite of other ACAS X variants poised to replace the second iteration of the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS II). ACAS Xr is tuned to support current-day helicopter platforms as well as electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) vehicles that are still under development. Given this flexibility, ACAS Xr may be used by helicopter crews currently in operation or by remotely operated eVTOL aircraft in the emerging Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) market. To cover the range of potential uses, two distinct configurations are being proposed for ACAS Xr: Collision Avoidance System (CAS) and Detect and Avoid (DAA). Under the CAS configuration, ACAS Xr provides minimal caution-level alerting but issues directive warning-level alerting and guidance. The DAA configuration, by contrast, provides caution-level alerting and guidance, in addition to the warning-level alerting and guidance. The current study was performed as part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s AAM project. Six helicopter pilots were recruited to fly a variety of scripted traffic scenarios in a full-motion, crewed eVTOL simulator. Participants flew 60 encounters over two days, reacting to prerecorded intruder aircraft that were scripted to fly into the participant's aircraft from different approach angles, relative altitudes, and during different phases of flight. The pilots flew half of the encounters with the CAS configuration and half with the DAA configuration. Within each block of 30 encounters, pilots experienced 10 conflicts while in cruise, 10 in hover, and 10 while on approach to a heliport. Results showed that pilot response times were consistently under 5 seconds for RAs and under 10 seconds for DAA alerts, when present, during all three phases of flight. Unsurprisingly, the DAA configuration was associated with lower rates of en-route and high-severity losses of DAA well clear compared to the CAS configuration in all phases of flight except for the terminal area. Rates of losses of DAA well clear were found to be substantially higher in the Hover scenario compared to Cruise. Pilots failed to fully comply with RAs at a rate of 0.10-0.18 in all conditions except for the DAA configuration in the Hover scenario, which was associated with a higher non-compliance rate of 0.4 due to Descend RAs issued at low altitudes. The implications of these results with regard to the ongoing development of ACAS Xr are discussed.
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AAM, ACAS X, advanced, air, avoid, avoidance, collision, detect, detect-and-avoid, mobility
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42nd Digital Avionics Systems Conference Proceedings, Barcelona, Spain
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Adobe PDF Icon  Conrad_Rorie_etal_DASC_2023.pdf (Download Acrobat Reader Click to download Adobe Acrabat Reader)
  (460KB) (application/pdf)
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Curator: Phil So
NASA Official: Jessica Nowinski
Last Updated: August 15, 2019