Travelers and air-traffic controllers alike truly owe Heinz Erzberger a "thank you." As an expert in the area of trajectory optimization, flight mechanics, controls, and automation concepts and algorithms for the air traffic control system, Heinz Erzberger recently designed the Center-TRACON Automation System (CTAS), which the Federal Aviation Administration has adopted as its terminal area air traffic automation system. CTAS was conceived and is being prototyped at the NASA Ames Research Center. The system inaugurates a new approach to air traffic control, called human-centered automation, that combines the skill of controllers with computer-generated advisories. Early production versions of CTAS tools are installed at air traffic control facilities serving the Denver, Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles airports, and FAA plans to install CTAS at more than 20 sites nationwide. To date, CTAS demonstrates improvements in both capacity (up to 13%) and delay savings (an average of 2 minutes per flight). The tools in CTAS benefit air traffic controllers by reducing stress and workload, and benefit air travelers by reducing delays and increasing safety.
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