The Future Air traffic management Concepts Evaluation Tool (FACET) was selected as NASA’s 2006 Software of the Year. The FACET software is designed to help improve the safety and efficiency of the national airspace system and is being recognized for innovation and significant contributions to science and technology.

The flexible software tool provides powerful simulation capabilities and can rapidly generate thousands of aircraft trajectories to enable efficient planning of traffic flow across the U.S. The software was developed at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

FACET uses actual air-traffic data and weather information to analyze the flight-plan route and predict trajectories for the climb, cruise and descent phases of aircraft. The analyses of these trajectories drive various air traffic management applications. This innovative feature enables FACET to model airspace operations across the country and process more than 15,000 aircraft on a single computer.

“FACET started out as a simulation tool for NASA research and has evolved into an operations planning tool for the FAA and airlines,” said NASA’s Banavar Sridhar, FACET team lead at Ames.

The software has been transitioned successfully from NASA laboratory use to national operations. Technologies derived from FACET have been incorporated into the nation’s traffic management system used by more than 500 flow managers at approximately 100 sites across the country. NASA has commercially licensed the FACET software to Flight Explorer, McLean, Va.

FACET is a component of a growing suite of air-traffic management tools developed at Ames as part of NASA’s Airspace Systems Program.

FACET was chosen for the Software of the Year award from nominations by NASA centers. NASA began the competition in 1994. It is designed to reward outstanding software at the agency. Eligible software must have NASA intellectual property interest, be of commercial grade, be available to appropriate commercial users or dedicated to an agency mission.

Selection criteria for the award include:

— Science and technology significance of the software and its impact on NASA’s mission
— The extent of potential use
— The usability of the software
— The quality factors considered in the software
— Intellectual property factors, such as patents and copyrights
— Innovation of the software

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