05:16 AM

Airport Teams With NASA And FAA In First Ever Test To Increase Airfield Safety And Efficiency

DFW Successfully Completes Perimeter Taxiway Demonstration With Impressive Results

DFW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Texas (June 12, 2003) — Leading the way in finding simple answers to complex issues of airport safety and efficiency, DFW International Airport has completed the first-ever virtual reality study of the perimeter taxiway concept. The project was brought to life by experts from the NASA Ames FutureFlight Central, virtual reality control tower, the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center, and actual pilots and air traffic controllers who fly out of and work at DFW.

DFW began studying the benefits of adding perimeter taxiways prior to September 11, 2001. The science is complex but the idea is simple: build perimeter taxiways around the airfield, enabling aircraft to taxi around runways rather than having to cross them, avoiding possible incursions while decreasing radio communications traffic between pilots and controllers.

The history-making project paves the way for the possible construction of perimeter taxiways at the world's third busiest airport within the next several years. Results of the project are being announced at DFW today, complete with a 12-minute video that documents the weeklong virtual reality demonstration. The video will be distributed to educate hundreds in the airline, airport and air traffic business.

"As project manager, I was very pleased to put the unique capabilities of NASA's FutureFlight Central and the Crew Vehicle Systems Research Facility to work. By linking the control tower, cockpit simulators, pilots and air traffic controllers together in real-time, all stakeholders could experience the proposed perimeter taxiway concept under safe and very realistic conditions," says Mike Madson, NASA Project Manager at NASA Ames Research Center.

"We were thrilled to be working with NASA, because this is indeed on par with rocket science, but the strategy is to simplify the airfield for all who use it," says Jim Crites, executive vice president of operations at DFW. "We wanted to 'fly before we buy', and the results of the virtual reality are even better than we anticipated in earlier 'fast-time' simulations. When the perimeter taxiways are built, the ultimate benefactor will be our 54 million passengers, who will experience less delay in a safer and more efficient operational environment."

The Airport won the FAA's Safety Award for the Southwest Region last year, and remains a world leader in airfield standards and safety. Other airports around the globe have adopted DFW Airport’s protocols. DFW also set a record with more than one million runway crossings without a single incursion, an unprecedented feat for a major airport. And the Airport sees perimeter taxiways as a vehicle to further enhance safety in the years ahead.

The demonstration spanned three days at NASA Ames FutureFlight Central virtual reality control tower in Moffett Field, California, complete with a virtual mock up of DFW's airfield and east-side control tower, and pilots flying a B747 simulator. Participants in the demonstration included five certified FAA controllers from the DFW tower and seven pilot representatives from airlines and pilot unions. Actual DFW flight operation data was fed into the computers and more flights were added to model DFW's future demand levels.

For the first time, users jointly experienced a future airport design in realtime.

The demonstrations of current conditions averaged 147 runway crossings per hour, and perimeter taxiways completely eliminated runway crossings at DFW under the conditions enacted for the demonstration.

“We believe the implementation of perimeter taxiways will enhance the safety of the Airport and improve Airport efficiency for the aviation community and the flying public,” says Ronnie Uhlenhaker, manager, charter program office, FAA. "Even more importantly, it shows how both management and the user community were brought together.” 

Editor's Notes: This release, and past news releases issued by DFW International Airport, are available online at www.dfwairport.com in the “MediaSite” section.

For the latest news, real-time flight information, parking availability or further details regarding the many services provided at DFW International Airport, log on to www.dfwairport.com. To arrange interviews contact DFW Public Affairs at 972 574 NEWS (6397) or Ken Capps, APR, Vice President Public Affairs, kcapps@dfwairport.com