Applicability and Surrogacy of Uncorrelated Airspace Encounter Models at Low Altitudes

by   Ngaire Underhill, et al.

The National Airspace System (NAS) is a complex and evolving system that enables safe and efficient aviation. Advanced air mobility concepts and new airspace entrants, such as unmanned aircraft, must integrate into the NAS without degrading overall safety or efficiency. For instance, regulations, standards, and systems are required to mitigate the risk of a midair collision between aircraft. Monte Carlo simulations have been a foundational capability for decades to develop, assess, and certify aircraft conflict avoidance systems. These are often validated through human-in-the-loop experiments and flight testing. For many aviation safety studies, manned aircraft behavior is represented using dynamic Bayesian networks. The original statistical models were developed from 2008-2013 to support safety simulations for altitudes above 500 feet Above Ground Level (AGL). However, these models were not sufficient to assess the safety of smaller UAS operations below 500 feet AGL. In response, newer models with altitude floors below 500 feet AGL have been in development since 2018. Many of the models assume that aircraft behavior is uncorrelated and not dependent on air traffic services or nearby aircraft. Our research objective was to compare the various uncorrelated models of conventional aircraft and identify how the models differ. Particularly if models of rotorcraft were sufficiently different than models of fixed-wing aircraft to require type specific models. The primary contribution is guidance on which uncorrelated models to leverage when evaluating the performance of a collision avoidance system designed for low altitude operations. We also address which models can be surrogates for noncooperative aircraft without transponders.


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