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Congratulations to our 2019 Tech Papers Finalists, and thank you to all our participants!

ATCA is proud to announce the finalists and the winner of the 2019 ATCA Technical Papers Competition.
These authors presented their papers at the 2019 Tech Symposium, and Attendees voted for their favorite presentation to determine the winner.


Advances in the Use of NAS Infrastructure and GBDAA for UAS Operations
Presented by: Robert J. Stamm, Raytheon Company, and Jim Johnson, Dept. of Transportation, Volpe National Transportation Center

There are several technical, operational, and regulatory challenges attendant to the integration of UAS in the NAS that have the potential to compromise the progression and scope of unmanned aircraft flight. One of the most pervasive limitations is the inability of a UAS operator to “see and avoid” other aircraft as required by Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14CFR§91.113). A Ground Based Detect and Avoid (GBDAA) system, derived from FAA-certified terminal ATC automation software in use in the NAS, continues to evolve to provide enhanced detect and avoid decision making for unmanned aircraft (UA) flight crews. The system displays airborne tracks provided by a collection of sensors for situational awareness and proximity warning alerts to the crew and mission planners. A mobile capability has been recently authorized by the FAA for operational use by the state of Ohio to support flights of large and small UAS. Other sites are also described illustrating how an industry and government partnership can provide solutions for integrating UAS operations into the NAS. The GBDAA system allows the pilot to make decisions about flight maneuvers without using ground observers or chase planes during day and night operations. Recent enhancements include the use of a separate GBDAA Operator (GO) display synchronized with the UA’s Pilot in Command’s (PIC) display to allow for the safe passage of the UA throughout its operational airspace. The GO supports the PIC with alert prioritization and maneuver recommendations, allowing the PIC to focus on piloting tasks and reduce the time needed to accomplish avoidance maneuvers.

Read this winning paper in the Fall 2019 issue of the Journal of Air Traffic Control


Are We Ready to Weather Urban Air Mobility (UAM)?
Presented by: Colleen Reiche, Booz Allen Hamilton

Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is a system for passenger and air cargo transportation within an urban area. It includes small package delivery and other urban unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and supports a mix of onboard piloted, ground-piloted, and increasingly autonomous operations. UAM is developing rapidly due to advances in technology. A number of aerospace and vehicle manufacturers are developing automated aerial vehicle and piloted aerial vehicle prototypes, and pilot projects are underway in Dubai and planned for Dallas and Los Angeles in the early 2020s. The UAM market is broad and includes potential applications such as air taxi, personal commuting, air ambulance, and law enforcement. Due to the recent emergence of this technology, there has been little research into the potentially significant weather impacts on safety, cost, and efficiency of UAM operations and vehicles. Conducted as part of a UAM market assessment, this research identifies potential key weather barriers to UAM due to a variety of weather conditions and public perception of flying in adverse weather. To characterize challenging weather conditions, we generated a comprehensive seasonal and diurnal climatology based on historical observations across anticipated UAM operational altitudes (surface – 5000 ft AGL) at ten focused urban areas in the United States. We evaluated weather-related societal barriers to UAM through a large general population survey where respondents were asked about their views regarding flying in a UAM vehicle amid various adverse weather conditions. Regional variability in weather conditions and potential barriers were also evaluated and will be described.

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Beyond Traditional SMS—Can Resilience Engineering and Deep Learning Neural Networks Be Used to Anticipate Disruptions in the NAS?
Presented by: Richard Abbott, Objectstream, Inc.

ANSPs are part of a complex socio-technical system. Air traffic controllers regularly make critical decisions to ensure safe operations in the NAS. At times, these decisions must be made quickly and without complete system knowledge. These characteristics, tight coupling and intractability, make it impossible to identify many accident and incident causes by using the safety management methodologies in place today. The question becomes: how can we complement our safety management system to increase our ability to function normally under unexpected conditions? One approach is to apply resilience engineering concepts to identify and improve the organization’s potential for resilient performance. Resilience, in this context, is a characteristic of how the system performs, not a quality of the system itself. This presentation will highlight four domain-independent abilities (monitor, respond, learn, anticipate) that are necessary for resilient performance and can be assessed, monitored, developed, and continuously improved. Methods and tools exist to help organizations assess their resilient performance potential. One tool, the Resilience Analysis Grid (RAG), describes a process that provides an organizational system profile that can be used to manage and develop the potential for resilient performance. Many safety and performance related databases contain information about past events, statistics, contingency plans, etc., that could be useful when using the RAG and other tools. Using artificial intelligence, specifically deep learning based natural language processing systems, to identify patterns in both structured and unstructured data, quickly, automatically, and with high levels of correlation to specific safety and performance categories could help an ANSP develop its resilient performance potential to recognize and manage unexpected situations when they present themselves.

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A Road Map to Certify Flying Cars
Presented by: Philip Zager, Booz Allen Hamilton

Aircraft certification can act as a barrier for promoting rapid integration of emerging technologies. Urban Air Mobility (UAM) aircraft—think flying taxis—challenge the existing certification process due to novel features and a combination of functions, such as distributed electric propulsion/tilt-wing propulsion, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), [flight] autonomy software, optionally piloted, energy storage, and the ratio of aircraft to pilots being below one. Certification can delay deployment of the technologies as they go through the certification process that may take several years and can increase costs of deployments if the burden of compliance is high. Certification can also be an enabler as it provides passengers comfort that the standard for safety is sufficiently high. One aspect of the FAA’s challenge is that technology moves at the speed of innovation while the administrative rulemaking process, by design, does not. To address this challenge, this proposal is technologically neutral, with the understanding that technology and applications will evolve in the time between the publication of this proposal and the final rule, and beyond.

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  • 06 Jun 2018
    Hon. Linda Hall Daschle Named 2018 Glen A. Gilbert Memorial Award Winner

    The Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) is pleased to announce that former FAA Acting Administrator Linda Hall Daschle has been selected as the 2018 recipient of the prestigious Glen A. Gilbert Memorial Award, one of the most prominent awards in aviation and ATCA’s highest honor.

    A pioneer for women in air traffic management, Daschle was the first female to hold the post of Acting Administrator for the FAA. She began her aviation career in Kansas nearly 45 years ago as a licensed weather observer for the agency. In 1993, she was nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the US Senate for the position of FAA Deputy Administrator. One of her first tasks involved an assessment of the agency’s key air traffic modernization program called the Advanced Automation System which was eventually overhauled, saving the agency an estimated $1.6 billion. She also oversaw the advancement of new regional airline safety regulations and conducted a review of the agency’s safety and surveillance program, which resulted in one of the single largest hires of new safety inspectors in FAA history. 

    Ms. Daschle has held numerous government and private-sector leadership positions, including with the American Association of Airport Executives, the Air Transport Association, the former Civil Aeronautics Board, and with the law firm of Baker Donelson. She is currently President of LHD & Associates, Inc, and serves on the board of Aireon, LLC.

    In accepting the Glen A. Gilbert Memorial Award, Ms. Daschle joins aviation greats, including Delta’s Richard Anderson, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi, the Hon. Jane Garvey, Boeing’s Neil Planzer, former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, and pilot A. Scott Crossfield. (View press release HERE.)

    Tickets will be available this month. For more information, visit

    Established in Washington, D.C., in 1956 by a group of air traffic controllers, the Air Traffic Control Association has been from the outset dedicated to progress in the science of air traffic control and the preservation of a safe flight environment.
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