Comprehensive Dynamic Air Traffic System Simulation

This web site is meant to give a brief overview of the ATC simulation tool that is currently under development at the AEM. Any new developments or changes on the simulation software will be posted here.

Program Status
Screenshots of the current version
Analysis Tools/Results
Online-Manual (currently AEM intern only)

1998-2004 Joachim K. Hochwarth


Program Status

Thesis & Documentation
  The thesis has been completed and is available electronically in a .pdf format. Click here to download the table of contents. By clicking here you can request a copy of the entire thesis. Please delete the REMOVE part from the e-mail address.
Code Availability
  The official rights to the code are owned by the UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA. It is currently being determined how it can be made available to the public domain. Please check back here later for more information regarding this matter.

Revision History

1.0.0 Original Design
1.0.1 Changes in the #include and some other places to make the code compliant to the C++ Standard and make it work with gcc version 3.3.1 · Adaption to Windows under Cygwin
1.1.0 Introduction of Wind Modeling
1.2.0 Currently under Construction
Changes to the FMS (Flight Management System) and other parts of the simulation to allow RTA (Required Time of Arrival) Waypoints

Program Status List

01/29/2004 Developed a post-processing tool to analyze separation violations between recorded trajectories · Baseline Revision 1.1.0
01/02/2004 Introduction of a generic wind model to the simulation · Implementation of the static wind model cWindStaticLinearAltitude
12/23/2003 Baseline Revision 1.0.1
01/25/2002 Current stage of development completed · Baseline Revision 1.0.0
11/12/2001 All FMS modes fully implemented
10/15/2001 Integration module fully implemented including Euler and Runge-Kutta integrators · Algorithms for flaps and gear in place
10/01/2001 Full randomness incorporated into the generation of air traffic in the generator · Randomness added as noise to the radar model
09/12/2001 Protocol for distributor clients changed so they will be notified of new or ammended flight plans as they are being filed
08/13/2001 ComDATSS simulates 24 hours of ARTCC traffic
07/19/2001 Pilot model cPilot contains delay and feedback models for different pilot types · cPilot interacts with the FMS
06/21/2001 Implementation of the engine model cEngine that uses the available model data · cEngine is - as cDrag - fully integrated into the aircraft model
03/29/2001 Implementation of cDrag with the use of actual model data · cDrag is now a fully integrated part of the aircraft model
03/13/2001 Adjustment of the times in the flightplans to the simulation time
02/05/2001 The distributor process implements radar algorithms which simulate radar sites that are defined in a configuration file · Clients can either receive aircraft data as it is detected or after a full radar sweep · Introduction of a centralized configuration file
01/17/2001 Revised and optimized protocol between the distributor and the administrator process · Introduction of a new interface for distributor clients · Overhauled GUI which allows multiple sessions and implements the revised distributor interface
12/05/2000 Recorded flightplans from the Fort Worth ARTCC (ZFW) can be read and used to generate air traffic · All aircraft fly along the routes defined in their respective flightplans
11/30/2000 Fort Worth ARTCC (ZFW) waypoint and airport data fully implemented · A simulation can automatically be launched to run distributed on a computer network
09/15/2000 Interface to receive advisories from FAST implemented
09/01/2000 Multiple controller can connect to the simulation and issue advisories · Advisory types of FAST can be used
07/31/2000 Introduction of an entirely revised simulation core · Sun Solaris version implemented
05/11/2000 Simulation processes can be distributed to run on different processor architectures
04/09/2000 eFixedFastTime simulation mode can be used to run fast-time simulations without manually issued controller advisories
03/24/2000 Multiple DataGenerators can connect to the simulation and provide data for incoming aircraft · DataGenerators are being synchronized with the simulation for the eFixedFastTime simulation mode
03/20/2000 eScaledRealTime simulation mode implemented
03/16/2000 cACGenerator introduced · Random generation of ACCallSigns for commercial and general aviation aircraft based on a given distribution file
02/26/2000 Mapping function converts ACTypes for compatibility with the available model data
02/09/2000 Internal cLinkedList algorithms optimized
01/27/2000 distributor can accept multiple clients and distribute data to them on request 
01/21/2000 Improved socket interface
12/17/1999 DataProcessors create distribution files as database for generating random aircraft
12/01/1999 Model data of a large number of aircraft types is read from an ASCII file and parsed to an internal data format
11/17/1999 Introduction of a configuration file to specify the simulation parameters
09/29/1999 Introduction of CommandSequence algorithms for automatic landing and WayPoint approaches · Implementation of two different landing approaches to the MSP airport 
09/24/1999 Introduction of Matlab analysis tools for the recorded data
09/17/1999 Introduction of a Linux version
09/07/1999 Improved and overhauled GUI which displays all aircraft-relevant data
08/29/1999 Several altitudes for a TRACON EntryPoint can be specified · Improvements on the GUI
08/25/1999 Optimized internal simulation structure implemented
07/17/1999 eFixedRealTime simulation mode implemented
07/06/1999 Full aircraft dynamics and feedback control implemented · Communication proctocol between the controller and the aircraft expanded
06/18/1999 Improved GUI version using geodetic coordinates  · Implemenation of the MSP TRACON · Additional features
06/18/1999 Implementation of the 1976 International - U.S. Standard Atmosphere
06/03/1999 GUI connected to the simulation for real-time display
05/08/1999 Controller and aircraft can exchange text for commands
05/03/1999 Controller can command a new waypoint the aircraft has to fly to
04/26/1999 Implementation of Sodano equation for computing the heading to a waypoint
04/16/1999 Full implementation of geodetic coordinates using the WGS-84 system
04/16/1999 Start of this Program Status List

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Screenshots of the current version

Latest GUI Version  (02/05/2001)

The following pictures show clippings of the GUI that is used to display the aircraft data. They do not yet show the implemention of the ZFW ARTCC as it has been implemented.

With the latest GUI version it is now possible to connect to the simulation in order to display real-time radar data.

Clipping of the actual display

The aircraft are symbolized by an arrowhead icon which points into their heading direction. Attached to this icon the aircraft ID is displayed. For future version there will be more aircraft related data displayed. A latitudinal-longitudinal grid is an additional help to keep better track of the aircraft positions. An icon marks the location of the Minneapolis - St. Paul International Airport (MSP). The five entry points to the MSP TRACON are marked by little circles.


Display manipulation options

Part of the display can be zoomed out to observe a certain air traffic situation in more detail. Furthermore there can be several sectors defined which respectively can be selected by a drop-down box. By selection of the respective button, the aircraft information tag and the latitudinal-longitudinal grid can be switched on and off.


Aircraft information display

By selecting an aircraft with the mouse pointer its current data is displayed in the aircraft information group box. In this version of the GUI an option was implemented to allow performing some controller commands. These input fields are not yet hooked up to the simulation software. For future versions the controller is going to have it's own GUI which is connected to the simulation software.


Flight path projection (Currently disabled)

Based on the current heading of the aircraft their flight path for the next 2, 5 or 15 minutes can be projected.


Conflict warning (Currently disabled)

Aircraft within a certain range of the selected aircraft are displayed in a different color as warning that there might be a conflict. It is yet to be implemented that this warning also occurs for aircraft that are not currently selected. Furthermore the conflict indications that are used will be more sophisticated in future versions.


Elevation masking

Using this option a floor and ceiling altitude can be specified. By doing this, the displayed aircraft are reduced to these whose altitude is within the given mask.


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Analysis Tools/Results

ComDATSS uses an output format which can be read by either Matlab or Excel. Every aircraft stores its data in a separate file which can be used for detailed analysis.

TRACON Simulation
The following two figures show the Matlab plots for a landing approach of an aircraft to runway 29R of the MSP airport.

ARTCC Simulation
The following plots show some recorded data when ComDATSS was used to simultate air traffic of ZFW (Dallas/Fort Worth).

This first plot shows the number of aircraft in the ZFW ARTCC during the simulation of one day. It starts at midnight where there was only one initial aircraft. This is because no traffic was specified at the start of the simulation except that one initial aircraft. It took about an hour to have the traffic up to a constant level.

Flight DAL309 from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to Orlando (MCO) can be seen next. It shows the leg of this flight inside the ZFW ARTCC from DFW to the HRV VORTAC near New Orleans.

In this plot the X mark the actual waypoints and the O where the aircraft initiated the turn maneuvers. The dotted blue line shows the direct connection of the waypoints and the solid red line the actual flight path. Since there was no heading correction by the FMS to compensate for the curvature of the earth the actual flight path deviates slightly on the stretch between the last two waypoints. Ten minutes after reaching the last waypoint the aircraft was deleted from the simulation.

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 Screenshot of the entire GUI

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ComDATSS Seminar Talk 10/07/1999
 Joachim K. Hochwarth

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Yiyuan Zhao Ph.D. · Associate Professor 
 · General Structure
Joachim K. Hochwarth Ph.D.
 · Software development of the simulation core
 · GUI Interface
 · Analysis tools

Adrianne A. Hersrud B.S.
 · First version of the GUI Interface

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This project is supported by NASA Ames Research Center under NCC2-990 monitored by Thomas J.Davis.

We thank John E. Robinson III and Douglas R. Isaacson for many helpful discussions

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