The Performance Analysis Office has developed a suite of simulation tools that allows FAA management to evaluate changes in operational efficiency due to anticipated changes in the NAS. This data allows the program office to address problems prior to the day of operations. Specific tools have been developed for the NAS system, the airport level and the oceanic environment. The models use airspace/airport capacities, traffic schedules and weather as input and produce delay, throughput statistics and other performance measures as output.
The office also produces standardized operational schedules that are provided for all FAA planning and investment analysis projects. These baseline and future projection schedules are updated annually using optimization software that selects 16 sample days that best approximate flight activity (Airport and Center) and delay (Total Delay, Weather Delay) across all FAA facilities. The sample includes 2 uniform busy days that can be used for benchmarking. The schedules are provided for both fast-time and human in the loop simulation projects.
NAS-Wide Simulation Models
NAS-Wide simulation models provide the capability necessary for evaluating policy, operator demand or operational changes that affect the entire system. They are also used to evaluate if operational changes applied regionally will have consequences to other parts of the NAS.
Inputs to the model include airport/airspace capacities, future operational schedules and weather information for the US airspace system. Applications include cost/benefit of new technology, new airspace routings, impact of newly published airline schedules and evaluation under IATA slot coordination.
Airport Simulation Models
FAA has developed a modeling suite of tools for conducting operational impact analysis for airports and to establish the Annual Service Volume (ASV) for airports. ASV simulations relate total annual operations to a target delay value and are used by FAA in reports to Congress that identify the airports projected to constrain the NAS. The airport simulation tools play an important operational role in evaluating new technology, new arrival, departure and de-icing procedures, new wake turbulence standards and in mitigating the impacts of runway closures during construction. With detailed surface capabilities, the models are also used in developing future airport expansion plans.
Oceanic Simulation Models
FAA, along with international partners, is actively engaged in assessing the benefits of ADS-B equipage and other operational improvements that improve safety, cost and operational efficiency in the oceanic environment. The FAA Oceanic tools simulate optimized flight paths based on an aircraft’s performance, weather and potential conflicts with other aircraft. The oceanic model has been used extensively as part of ICAO work in the North Atlantic and has been validated using fuel data provided by airlines.
ATO Operational Schedules
ATO operational schedules are updated annually using optimization software that selects 16 sample days that best approximate flight activity (Airport and Center) and delay (Total Delay, Weather Delay) across all FAA facilities. The sample includes 2 uniform busy days that can be used for benchmarking. The schedules reflect capacity constraints and aircraft fleet retirements. Flight legs are linked into itineraries that reflect realistic aircraft utilization.