NASA, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, embraces the lessons learned by airlines, as well as a lot of experiential knowledge from the carriers’ service providers to inform, improve and enhance NASA’s airspace and efficiency studies.

During many years past, research conducted by NASA has contributed significantly to aviation safety, air-traffic efficiency and new technologies. However, during that time, airline operational objectives and the inner workings of airlines (from network strategies to passenger services) have not generally played an especially significant role in NASA’s research efforts.

Today, that pattern is changing, as Robust Analytics Inc. and Sabre Airline Solutions are partnering on three aeronautics research projects currently being conducted by NASA. These projects share the common theme of bringing airline information, decision-making processes, automated solutions, operational objectives and passenger-service interests to NASA’s air-traffic-management research programs.

Under the new Airspace Operations and Safety Program, NASA has specifically added emphasis on a much better, more thorough understanding of airline considerations to its fundamental approach in aviation research.

Air traffic management

The first of these current research projects involves the development of an air-traffic-management (ATM) cost model, which NASA projects as a model to estimate the cost savings or the cost impact of alternative ATM concepts and technologies.

Existing cost models, quite typically, are limited to simple flight-cost factors, with occasional added detail on fuel burn and flying time.

It is the goal of this current NASA project that the ATM cost model will provide more comprehensive and accurate cost and economic impact data to support project development, portfolio evaluation, trade studies and cost-benefit analyses.

The model is intended to offer researchers and project managers a greater understanding of the cost drivers for aircraft operators, as well as to help validate the cost and revenue impacts.

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