Integrating Upper Class E Traffic Management (ETM) Operations into the National Airspace System: Use Cases and Research Questions

Publication Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

AIAA/IEEE Digital Avionics Systems Conference - Proceedings






As new categories of vehicles are introduced in the National Airspace System, so too are novel concepts for a cooperative approach to traffic management environments. One of these new environments, Upper Class E Traffic Management (ETM), is expected to include a variety of high altitude, long endurance vehicles with a range of performance capabilities and mission profiles that operate in cooperative areas above 60,000 feet. In addition to developing the rules, architecture, and systems for operations within the ETM environment itself, it is also important to consider how ETM vehicles will integrate with traditional Air Traffic Management and interact with Air Traffic Control (ATC) as they traverse ATC-controlled airspace and transition in and out of cooperative ETM operating areas.As a first step toward future ETM demonstrations at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames Research Center's Airspace Operations Laboratory, use cases with step-by-step procedures were developed to identify both nominal and off-nominal scenarios in which ETM operations will interact with ATC. As NASA prepares to develop a simulation platform to demonstrate ETM cooperative practices and ETM-ATC interactions, the procedures, ATC roles and responsibilities, data exchange requirements, and research questions that were identified as part of use case development will inform scenario and system architecture design. The upcoming simulation work will include initial prototype ETM-ATC coordination tools to support ATC interactions with ETM operations.This paper will briefly discuss NASA's upcoming ETM development work and then provide background on ETM-ATC interactions, describe each ETM-ATC interaction use case, and discuss open questions on concept, procedures, and assumptions.


ATC, ETM, Upper Class E Traffic Management


Research Foundation