Integrated Simulation Environment
HITL simulator accelerates deployment of operationally-proven solutions
The central tool for much of the Concept Engineering and Development (CED) process is Metron Aviation’s Integrated Simulation Environment (ISE). ISE was specifically designed to ensure the delivered products created through our CED process would always be mature, well-validated and defect-free. ISE provides a laboratory for studying the interaction of new decision support tools and the decision makers using them, under a variety of normal and irregular conditions.
ISE is designed as a Human-In-The-Loop (HITL) simulator, which operates at a natural pace and interacts with humans under simulated, but realistic conditions. In a typical simulation scenario, ISE presents human players, FAA traffic managers and airline operations centers, with simulated problems and provides decision aids to address them. The choices the individuals make are reflected in the eventual outcome of the scenario.
There are three principal components of the ISE:
- A Flight Event Simulator models the action of each flight in the system. Based on the flight’s intent (i.e. its scheduled take-off time and flight plan), any instructions that would be given to the flight and the other flights in the simulation, would get computed to where each flight would be at any time and reports this to the system software emulator.
- A System Software Emulator behaves like the current software that manages Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) today, or reflects any changes that might be part of the proposed solution. The system emulator receives flight information from the flight event simulator and instructions from decision support tools. It organizes the flight data into data feeds that match the feeds generated by the system software and then sends these feeds to the decision support tools.
- The Decision Support Tools are the participants’ windows into the simulation and their means for controlling it. The tools used can be any current tools in use today, or they can be new experimental prototypes developed to support a concept.. As the simulation plays out, the participants use the insight into the situation and the capabilities provided by the tools to manage the flights under their control.
After a simulation exercise, post-operational analysis tools evaluate efficiency, effectiveness and equity of the outcome. The effectiveness of the decision aids and the procedures for using them, are evaluated by the quality of the outcome and the judgment of the participants.
CED engineers use the ISE to develop, test and evaluate new concepts, a capability that accelerates the process enormously. As an example, Airspace Flow Programs (AFP), required extensive revisions to the existing TFM decision support tools, an entirely new way of thinking on the part of FAA traffic managers and flight operators, and a detailed set of tested operational procedures, evolved from initial approval by the FAA, to a very successful national deployment in just 18 months.
The ISE is also used by the FAA and other organizations to train decision makers in the proper way to manage operations under simulated situations. This includes training new traffic managers on existing tools and training experienced managers on new capabilities about to be deployed.