ERAU NextGen Programs are conducted at the Florida Test Bed (FTP), an agile research and integration facility designed to allow government, industry, and academia to showcase their ideas and technologies in a NextGen NAS environment.
The ERAU NextGen Program has its origins in work conducted by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and members of an Industry Consortium on the Integrated Airport Initiative (IAI), which began in 2006. The IAI project was aimed at demonstrating emerging concepts and capabilities related to NextGen within the scope of air traffic control, as well as airport and airline operations.
Leveraging the work and contributions of the IAI, the FAA established the ERAU NextGen Programs at a government facility while maintaining a cooperative relationship with IAI industry members. The team has continued to support the needs of the FAA while building a solid technological capability.
In general, the early stages of a NextGen advancement — such as rapid prototyping and demonstrations — occur at this Florida site, later stages such as implementation occur at the William J. Hughes Technical Center near Atlantic City, NJ, and space-related projects are worked on at NASA’s North Texas Research Station near Dallas/Fort Worth (TX) International Airport. All three NextGen test beds are built to serve the following purposes:
The ERAU NextGen Program supports overarching requirements of all the three test beds and provides the following unique capabilities:
The mission of the ERAU NextGen Programs is to provide a microcosm of the National Airspace System (NAS), with prototype NextGen capabilities that are aligned with planned functionality as depicted by the NAS Enterprise Architecture and Infrastructure Roadmaps.
ERAU NextGen Programs can be used to evaluate concepts, operational research, capabilities, and technologies prior to these being funded, implemented, or fielded at a ERAU NextGen Programs facility. ERAU NextGen Programs integrates multiple flight domains within its facility in order to provide for end-to-end or multi-domain demonstrations and concept evaluations.
It provides an open platform to help evaluate and examine the feasibility of new technologies.
In September 2009, the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) — a public-private partnership group that seeks to develop consensus among diverse, competing interests in aviation modernization issues — published the NextGen Mid-Term Implementation Task Force Report.Learn more
The ERAU NextGen Programs have furthered NextGen activities by:
The Test Bed allows for concept demonstrations and evaluations that have or will lead to NextGen implementation decision making in the following areas:
The Florida NextGen Test Bed (557 Innovation Way, Daytona Beach) is a state-of-the-art, 10,000-plus-foot facility conveniently and strategically located adjacent to Daytona Beach International Airport and near Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
The FTB consists of two primary areas — the Demonstration Suite and the Integration Suite — plus a Data Center which houses the network equipment, rack-mounted servers, and other equipment required to drive the operational capabilities in the Integration and Demonstration Suites.
The approximately 5,000 square feet Integration Suite is used to carry out development, test, and integration efforts for the operational capabilities being evaluated at the FTB. Here, engineers from industry partners come to incorporate their NextGen product into the National Airspace System in a controlled setting.
Visiting NextGen engineers have access to offices for use as a temporary and private workspace while at the FTB. The Integration Suite also contains a video conference room, which allows for meetings and teleconferences for approximately 20 people with a high degree of technology.
The largest section of the Integration Suite is home to the Integration Area, which contains R&D versions of actual NAS and supporting air traffic control systems, with additional prototype enhancements.
Many times, these tests and integrations are done to prepare for a demonstration of the system to stakeholders in the Demonstration Suite.
The Demonstration Suite is at the core of ERAU’s NextGen Programs mission. It is approximately 5,000 square feet and is used to conduct demonstrations of the operational capabilities deployed at the FTB.
Designed to accommodate flexibility and future growth, the suite contains reconfigurable bay areas positioned along the periphery to accommodate demonstrating and visualizing different flight domains or operational areas.
Large screen displays throughout the suite enable the audience to view activity on certain monitors within the various flight domains, while screens at the front of the suite provide projections of presentations, displays, or other materials. Seats can be organized in a stadium/theatrical arrangement in order to maximize the audience members’ views of the operational capabilities being demonstrated.
The Florida Test Bed contains 18 R&D versions of actual NAS and supporting air traffic control (ATC) systems, with additional prototype enhancements. Essentially, it’s enough ATC equipment to control the air space of a small country.
These ATC systems allow for integration, testing, and demonstration of a new NextGen system on air traffic from departure gate to arrival gate. This can be done using actual live air traffic and weather data from the Airspace Situation Display to Industry (ASDI) feed, archived ASDI data from the past, or simulated data provided by pseudo-pilots and air traffic controllers.
This information — and much more — is accessed and shared efficiently and quickly through System Wide Information Management (SWIM), one of the foundations of the Next Generation Air Transportation System.
Using one common messaging infrastructure — the NAS Enterprise Messaging Service (NEMS) — all “trusted” users involved in what goes into an aircraft’s operations have access to the same information, creating a shared common situational awareness.
These are the labeled areas in the Integration and Demonstration Suites, what is controlled in the area, and what systems are used:
Using NextGen’s Time Based Flow Management (TBFM), Air Traffic Managers can more efficiently schedule flight arrival times, taking into account weather and other factors so that a steady — not erratic — flow of traffic comes in and out of airports.Systems Used: Time Based Flow Management (TBFM)
Dispatchers generate and file a flight plan for private pilots, including information like call sign, aircraft type, passengers, route, flight time, arrival, and departure.
Systems Used: ERAU Multi-Information Display (EMID); ETA — a flight scheduler system
Dispatchers generate and file a flight plan for commercial airlines, including information like call sign, aircraft type, passengers, route, flight time, arrival, and departure.Systems Used: Surface Decision Support System (SDSS); Collaborative Flight Plan Management system (CFPM)
Operators ensure a fast and efficient turnaround of aircraft, coordinating activities such as the mechanical servicing and cleaning of the aircraftSystem Used: Surface Decision Support System (SDSS)
Controllers have a synthetic view of the airport surface at New York-JFK, Miami, or Los Angeles and manage aircraft at the gate and as they taxi to the runway.Systems Used: Surface Decision Support System (SDSS); ERAU Multi-Information Display (EMID)
Controllers direct aircraft during the departure, descent, approach, and landing phases of flight for one or several airports in a region.Systems used: Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS); Surface Decision Support System (SDSS)
Air traffic controllers direct and manage aircraft during the en route portion of its flight, monitoring its progress using the En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) system and instructing pilots of required changes in navigation due to weather or to keep the necessary separation from other air traffic. (Note: There are 20 Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC) in the National Airspace System (NAS), and the Florida Test Bed can simulate all 20 of them: Atlanta (ZTL), Boston (ZBW), Cleveland (ZOB), Jacksonville (ZJX), Los Angeles (ZLA), Memphis (ZME), Miami (ZMA), New York (ZNY), Oakland (ZOA), Washington, D.C. (ZDC)Houston (ZHU), Dallas (ZFW), Albuquerque(ZAB), Oakland (ZOA), Seattle (ZSE), Salt Lake (ZLC), Denver (ZDV), Chicago (ZAU), Kansas ZKC), and Indianapolis (ZID) )System Used: En-Route Automation Modernization (ERAM)
Control the aircraft from a computer terminal based on communications from ATC through the various phases of the flight.
Systems Used: Flight simulator — pseudo pilot; ERAU Multi-Information Display (EMID) — Electronic Flight Bag; Target Generation Facility (TGF) — target generator or pseudo pilot
Various tools that are used to display, analyze, or report on aircraft operations in the NAS or the FTB simulation environment.