John Bluck

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Phone: 650/604-5026 or 604-9000


Kandace Bender

San Francisco SFO Airfield Development Bureau, South San Francisco, CA

Phone: 650/821-2112

Release: 00-61AR

NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: You are invited to cover a news
conference Thursday, Sept. 21, at 10 a.m. PDT, at NASA Ames Research
Center, Moffett Field, CA, regarding recent NASA simulations of potential,
new air traffic control tower locations at SFO. To reach Ames, take the
Moffett Field exit from Highway 101, drive east to the main gate at Moffett
Federal Airfield and report to the visitor badging office for maps and
directions to Bldg. 262, room 100. Tours of the nearby FutureFlight
Central simulator will take place after the news conference. The simulator
will be available to reporters only until 2 p.m. Related video footage is
slated for satellite distribution and handout on betacam videotape; please
see further information at the end of this notice. U.S. media
representatives must have valid picture ID in order to enter Ames. Foreign
media representatives must be escorted.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and NASA officials will
conduct a news conference at 10 a.m. PDT, Thursday, Sept. 21 to discuss
research conducted at a large NASA airport simulator to consider scenarios
for potential SFO control tower relocation, should runway reconfiguration

The briefing will be at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA,
near FutureFlight Central, a simulator that can represent the busiest U.S.
airport towers in size and capability and can house as many as a dozen air
traffic controllers.

“Should a reconfiguration option be pursued, we want to make
certain that the air traffic control tower does not become the limiting
factor for the safe, efficient movement of aircraft at SFO,” said Matthew
Mead, senior planning manager for SFO runway reconfiguration. “This is
part of our continuing commitment to deploy the appropriate technology
advances to address our rising air passenger levels, decrease delays and
decrease noise levels.”

During the news conference, Mead will answer questions about the
status of the SFO simulation work completed at NASA. Nancy Dorighi and
Boris Rabin, both of NASA Ames, will be on hand to answer queries about how
the simulator works and to conduct tours following the briefing and
question-and-answer period.

FutureFlight Central is a walk-in, full-scale, 360-degree airport simulator
that can help researchers evaluate new tower positions, runway
configurations and aircraft movements before new construction begins.

“NASA’s FutureFlight Central hopes to save airports costly design errors by
permitting planners to easily experience different, highly realistic
versions of their airport design and, most importantly, observe how real
people work inside these future environments,” said Dr. Paul Kutler, deputy
director of the NASA Ames Information Systems Directorate.

The simulator’s artificial world changes in real time. Scenes evolve in
the same manner that real-world changes occur. In the computer world,
airplanes not only come and go, but weather changes. Consoles at each
controller’s location show radar, weather maps, runway lights and
touch-screen controls, as well as other readouts.

“Engineers can identify future problems and can try solutions in a safe
setting, the computer’s virtual world,” said Dorighi, who manages the
facility at Ames. “We are able to represent any airfield in existence or as
planned for the future. We can measure the impact of a change on the
airport’s capacity, and let the controllers try it first-hand, all before
anything is built.”

Other unique features of NASA FutureFlight Central include: capability to
move the tower “eye point” to any location, including a “pilot eye view”;
precise controls to simulate weather, time-of-day, cloud coverage and
lighting; a voice and data communication network, allowing ground-to-tower
and air-to-tower human interaction; and video record and playback, allowing
analysis of human performance and decisions. More FutureFlight information
is on the Internet at:

NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: Broadcasters may downlink NASA satellite “video file”
footage related to this story, on Sept.20 and 21, unless satellite feeds
are interrupted due to a delay in the upcoming Space Shuttle landing. After
Sept. 21, depending upon the satellite schedule, re-feeds of the material
may also be available; please telephone Ray Castillo at 202-358-4555 in
Washington, DC, to make a re-feed request.

Please note that all TV feed times, unless otherwise listed, are Eastern
Times. The NASA Video File normally airs at 12:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 6:00
p.m., 9:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. NASA Television is available on GE-2,
transponder 9C at 85 degrees West longitude, with vertical polarization.
Frequency is 3880.0 Megahertz, with audio on 6.8 Megahertz. Any changes to
the line-up will appear on the NASA video file advisory on the web at