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Conference Program Abstracts – 62nd ATCA Annual

ATC: Be All That You Can Be (General Session)
We have an immensely diverse group of airspace users with different interests that must be reconciled. They are linked by a common desire to make our airspace, which is the largest, safest and most diverse in the world, ever safer, more efficient and with growing access. What are the views of key stakeholders – both traditional and new operators -- on the priorities, initiatives, and resources needed to further enhance and modernize the system over the next decade? The moderator will engage a broad spectrum of airspace users in a strategic dialogue focused on US aviation leadership as well as operational excellence.

Global Surveillance Challenges (Breakout)
Interoperability is critical to the success of the global aviation industry. Under ICAO’s leadership, ANSPs are developing modernization strategies that can achieve interoperability across airspace borders. However, the idea of truly global interoperability needs to be carefully examined. Interoperability is a complex, multi-dimensional puzzle. Models can be difficult to get right. This breakout will focus on progress toward interoperability and the technical, operational, and regulatory challenges that hinder that progress and how a unified surveillance strategy will meet the multiple mission needs of FAA, DoD, DHS, NWS/NOAA, and our ICAO partners.

Lessons Learned: ANSP Training Programs (Breakout)
Since we’re talking about updating ATC training programs in the US, this session will do a deep dive into other ANSPs training program. The will features representatives from DFS, NAV CANADA, NATS UK, and more.

International UAS Integration (Breakout)
Drones are here to stay in the NAS, but we have a long way to go in figuring out airspace management, aka UAS traffic management (UTM), despite it being debated at length in the US. This panel will primarily focus on international perspectives for UAS airspace integration, but it will also dive deep on autonomous operations, standards, and regulations.

Eyes in the Sky: Future Surveillance Solutions (General Session)
Air traffic service providers and regulators around the world are moving toward airspace and flight operations that enable greater flexibility and adaptability, along with ensuring improved traffic flow, capacity, efficiency, and safety. In addition, new entrants such as UAS, commercial space vehicles, upper airspace users, and increasing cybersecurity threats require a unified approach to cooperative and non-cooperative surveillance to support the rapidly changing air transportation system. Many reviews, analyses, and research papers have devoted time and energy to this issue; now it’s ATCA’s turn. In the long term, are we prepared, both technically and financially, to shift more of our surveillance to space-based ADS-B and more spectrum-efficient primary radar? Is it time to define a national surveillance strategy that enhances future ground-based surveillance while adding space-based capabilities to best meet our varying agencies’ needs? This panel, will build upon the keynote speaker’s presentation by bringing together several experts to discuss the opportunities for potential cost savings and technical/regulatory challenges that must be overcome to meet near- and long- term needs of our future surveillance system.

ATC Platinum Rule: Train Others as They Would Like to Be Trained (Breakout)
With the ever-changing generation of folks coming into the workforce, the culture is changing on an almost weekly basis. Today’s Young Aviation Professionals (YAPs) grew up during the 1990s (or after) in an environment where computers are everywhere, phones are connected to people and not places, much of social interaction has been reduced to apps, and virtually every aspect of our lives is automated to some degree. Accredited college degrees from major universities are achievable without ever setting foot in a classroom. It’s clearly time to revisit the tools, technologies, and processes used to train air traffic controllers. To better attract early career professionals, our industry needs to take advantage of the modern technologies that drive so many aspects of our lives today, better align its delivery with the mindset of its target audience, and drive culture change instead of reacting to it. This panel will provide a platform for some of our best and brightest YAPs to offer their viewpoints on the topic.

The Full Spectrum: Multi-Agency PPP (Breakout)
Many FAA systems urgently need to be modernized today, but we can’t ignore the severe budget challenges the federal government is facing. Public-private partnership (PPP) concepts use private sector capital and commercial best practices to temporarily shift selected FAA ATC system modernization programs outside of the Agency so they may conceivably be upgraded on time and below cost. This panel will discuss the history of pursuing this PPP method and the many challenges associated with this approach.

FAA Tech Center Comes to DC (Breakout)
ATCA’s Tech Symposium in Atlantic City, N.J. was more than five months ago, so it’s time to check in with the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center. This breakout session will discuss what the Tech Center is doing today to advance NextGen, as well as other stakeholders’ and ANSPs’ roles in achieving that mission.

Cultivating the New Workforce (General Session)
Baby Boomers are retiring at a staggering rate, about 10,000 a day. This affects all facets of aviation, including air traffic control. The need for new skills and competencies in order to train, work, lead, and manage in a more virtual, networked, and globalized world is more important than ever. As we transition into a new workforce, in many instances led by millennials, is the FAA prepared to hire and train the next generation workforce? The panel will discuss the impediments of hiring and training the next generation workforce and leadership in the FAA and explore how industry has addressed the millennial workforce’s training evolution.

Solve for X: Big Data + X = NextGen Success (General Session)
Data is at the center of everything in aviation and that includes NextGen implementation. The NAS produces a myriad of data required under current regulations, from airports and users. Unfortunately, none of this information is centrally collected and analyzed. Industry and government agencies are beginning to understand the benefits provided by big data analytics to making operational improvements. The session will feature big data analytics and its ability to improve operational efficiencies, capabilities, and safety. Panelists will also concentrate on application and ownership of big data analytics, as well as its proprietary rights, regulation development, and impact on the NAS. We will hear from FAA officials concerning their long-term policies surrounding big data. The session’s key focus will be on NextGen and NAC priorities and big data’s role in fulfilling them.

Weather or Not, Make Every Day a VFR Day (Breakout)
Weather forecasting services, while far from perfect, have only increased over time. Yet, despite these advances, operational metrics on NAS weather performance have shown little effect in reducing weather impacts. Several years ago, a NextGen weather team examined this apparent paradox and concluded that the NAS needs to change how it utilizes weather information. Early studies suggest a more proactive and better synchronized operational plan between the FAA and the operational stakeholders, in an aggregate view, could yield better system wide performance. There has been research to “translate” weather information into system performance predictions, but the marriage of an operational deterministic NAS with the probabilistic field of meteorology has been rocky at best. Significant funding has been spent and first generation weather decision support tools are on the horizon, but is this vision practical (or even possible) if this relationship doesn’t improve? This panel will focus on overcoming operational barriers to changing paradigms and testing proactive weather theorems.

Above and Beyond: BVLOS/High-Altitude Autonomy (Breakout)
The future NAS is one that can integrate all shapes and sizes of UAS. The vision is clear, but the path to achieve it is not. This panel will discuss various efforts that will eventually lead us to full UAS integration. As a near term example, operators want to fly their UAS beyond visual line of site (BVLOS). FAA, along with UAS developers, are devising the right technology and procedures to make BVLOS a safe, regular occurrence instead of a rarely-approved operation. Further down the path, companies see a role for large UAS operating in high altitude airspace. A great example is the development currently underway on unmanned air freighters. Further still, is the thought of large UAS that are fully automated to carry cargo or passengers on demand. Uber, Google, and others are already talking about our future aviation state with a mix of manned aircraft, unmanned aircraft, and autonomous aircraft. So, what do we need to do today and in the near-term to safely succeed in making this vision a reality? This panel will discuss the status of BVLOS, the efforts to integrate UAS into the higher altitudes, the state of development for autonomous vehicles, the spectrum of missions for high-altitude, automated UAS, and traffic management challenges.

Established on RNP (Breakout)
In an effort to provide efficiencies during simultaneous independent approach operations for dual and triple runway configurations, the FAA is progressing the “Established on RNP” (EoR) concept. Initiated by the Performance Based Operations Aviation Rulemaking Committee (PARC), EoR offers controllers more flexibility by enabling them to clear aircraft on an RNP approach from positions other than final approach. This change to separation standards allows aircraft to turn to align to the runway on stabilized and repeatable approaches much closer to the field, thus reducing track miles, fuel burn, and noise. To implement this emerging capability, the FAA NextGen Technology Development & Prototyping Division has initiated a series of safety analyses to ensure EoR can be operated in a safe manner, which will eventually permit approximately 85 percent of aircraft to utilize and benefit from EoR operations. This session will break down the EoR analysis and examine the standards and procedures that helped inform the concept.

SWIMing in Data at Home and Abroad (Breakout)
System Wide Information Management (SWIM) can not only help foster Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) within an organization, but also across the globe. With more aeronautical, flight, and weather data available on a macro level, how can entities get access to what they need quickly to help improve their operations? How can you get involved to help deliver practical SWIM data, and what initiatives are already underway to make this a reality? Panelists will discuss SWIM’s evolution, status globally, challenges from an ANSP and industry perspective, benefits at ICAO, and innovations.

How Will We Transition with New Reform? (Breakout)
The 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act addressed the cost, access, and governance fears of general aviation and corporate jet operators, but concerns remain about the risks of moving air traffic control from a federal to a private stewardship. Although, by the standards of corporate America, moving ATC to a private non-profit entity is not a particularly large transaction, it is one that involves our country’s premier safety organization, at a time when many NextGen programs are in midstream. The programs, the progress of NextGen, and the health of the airspace are all at risk if we don’t get this right. Is the AIRR Act’s three-year transition period long enough? Are the Act’s anticipated management structures sufficiently robust? How do we manage a transition like this and mitigate its risks? What, if any, lessons can we learn from large corporate transactions? The panel will seek to answer these questions.

Look Ma, No Hands: Moving to Autonomous Operations (General Session)
Spoiler alert: The aviation industry is rapidly moving towards more autonomous operations – which extends way beyond drones – and it’s super disruptive for the NAS. Some say humans are the weakest link in progressing autonomy for UAS and UTM. What say you? This session will dive deep on beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), timing, regulation, and other challenges such as the human factor. While much of the discussion will focus on UAS, particularly high altitude, low altitude, rockets, and Project Loon, emphasis will also be given to the impact of increased levels of autonomy in manned systems (RPVs, manned aircraft, and ATM systems). The panel’s primary focus will be how humans will increase trust in our autonomous systems. This will involve research, regulatory activity, and changes to training, as well as operational procedures and systems (air and ground).

Accelerated Acquisition Challenges (Breakout)
Our current acquisition process can’t keep pace with the speed of technological advancements. It’s an issue felt by the FAA, interagency partners, and industry. This breakout will focus on the challenges related to accelerated procurement across interagencies and by industry partners. Attempts to bring a fresh outlook and business approach will falter when faced with the realities of government customers’ expectations. There is a need to forge different or more innovative approaches to acquisition that, when attempted by contract managers, satisfy FARs, AMS, or other regulations while overcoming potential backlash by some in the aviation community.

Adventures in Commercial Space Data (Breakout)
Commercial space is all about processes, procedures, and of course, data. Harnessing that data, and collecting more of it, is the key to improving space operations’ launch and recovery locations, license/certification processes (including safety analysis), and recovery of space vehicles. The session will feature discussion on data collection methods available today, what data and tools can improve NAS efficiencies, and the data analytics that can be done based on a lack of “big data.” The panel will focus on future fully automated collection and analysis capabilities, analyzing the data for safety parameters, and improving operation efficiencies. Also featured will be application and ownership of data, analytics today and in the future, and proprietary rights of commercial space or government customers (excluding classified missions).

Let’s Make a Deal: The Power of Procurement (Breakout)
Even virulent opponents of restructuring air traffic control outside of the FAA agree that the agency’s procurement system does not deliver the modern technology a high-tech safety organization like the Air Traffic Organization needs to have. The Air Traffic Management System Performance Act of 1996 gave the FAA Administrator broad authority to create a separate procurement system that was independent of the Federal Acquisition Regulations and the Department of Transportation. Most high-tech enterprises do not acquire technology in massive bundles. Instead, they acquire technology incrementally so they can constantly recalibrate and, with backward compatibility, ensure that all technology is state-of-the art. The FAA regularly installs new equipment that is several cycles behind the best available technology. This program-based acquisition is not just the creation of the FAA but is also promulgated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Congress’ Appropriations Committees. Why can’t FAA acquisitions be done more incrementally and in the same manner as high-tech operations like phone companies and banks? What would be the effect on FAA contractors of a more incremental and nimble procurement practice?

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Conference Program Abstracts – 62nd ATCA Annual

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