Identifying Common Coordination Procedures across Extensible Traffic Management (xTM) to Integrate xTM Operations into the National Airspace System

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Conference Proceeding

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New categories of missions and vehicle types, such as drone delivery services, on-demand air taxi, and high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) vehicles are being proposed to operate using a novel, highly automated information exchange infrastructure and a community-based, cooperative traffic management concept. Collectively, these new operations are called Extensible Traffic Management (xTM). As these xTM vehicles become more prevalent, their operations will increasingly overlap with existing conventional aircraft and with each other. In order to seamlessly co-exist with current conventional aircraft operations, new coordination procedures, tools and services will be needed to integrate xTM into the future National Airspace System (NAS). In our prior work, we have identified a set of use cases for xTM interactions with air traffic control (ATC), categorized across different xTM operations based on trigger events. Events consisted of ones such as nominal xTM vehicle transition into the ATC environment or an off-nominal emergency landing situation. In this paper, we have extended the prior work to identify commonalities in the coordination procedures across xTM, as well as differences that are specific to the individual xTM operations. The overall results showed that two types of xTM-ATC interactions were prevalent: 1) xTM vehicles transitioning between xTM and ATC operational environments; 2) xTM vehicles being allowed to continue xTM operations in areas that are normally controlled by ATC. The results also suggested that emergency and rare off-nominal events may need specialized procedures for each vehicle type. The overall results suggest that there is a pathway to define a common method of handling and integrating diverse xTM operations in the future NAS, but there need to be procedures for individualized handling of xTM vehicles in infrequent, safety-critical events.


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