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Nasa Takes Flight With Byu Student's Work


BYU undergraduate Andrew Wallace

BYU undergraduate Andrew Wallace has interviewed air traffic controllers to understand the behaviors and stresses of a typical workday.

Credit: Brigham Young University

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) stands to benefit from a Brigham Young University computer science undergraduate's study of the arrival spacing of aircraft at New York's LaGuardia Airport. Working with NASA's Ames Research Center, Andrew Wallace is assisting in an effort to build simulations to help improve the efficiency of air traffic controllers as airspace becomes increasingly crowded.

NASA is already running simulations, but its current software cannot adjust for the specific workloads of individual air traffic controllers. Wallace's research will inform NASA on what kinds of simulations will be of use to different airports and air traffic controllers, specifically as drones become more integrated into air traffic.

A typical 90-minute simulation may include 100 arrival flights with 40 departing flights managed by nine different air traffic controllers. The simulations could help reduce the cognitive load on air traffic controllers, leading to safer airspace conditions. "They have limited amount of time with the air traffic controllers when they bring them in to run the simulations, and we're hoping to make that more productive," Wallace says.

From Brigham Young University
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