Commercial and general aviation aircraft frequently encounter unexpected atmospheric turbulence. Though rarely fatal, these encounters often result in serious injuries to aircraft occupants or rerouting of flights. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there were 340 turbulence related injuries to passengers or crews on commercial aircraft in the United States between 2009 and 2019. In addition, the cost to air carriers of these injuries (medical attention and lawsuits), equipment damage and maintenance/inspection, or rerouting is substantial.
Moreover, turbulence has a significant effect on capacity within the National Airspace System (NAS) and is the second leading cause of impact to NAS operations, primarily due to avoidance actions taken by airline pilots and dispatchers. A single “rough ride” report often results not only that flight’s crew requesting an altitude deviation, but nearby flights as well. Strictly speaking, Air Traffic Control (ATC) controllers do not close the air space, pilots will still try to avoid those particular flight levels where turbulence has been reported until a “smooth ride” report is received. Because of this, and despite the often transient nature of atmospheric turbulence, large segments of airspace are avoided for long periods of time, reducing flow capacity. Often times, a scout aircraft is utilized to “test” the atmosphere and determine whether the turbulence has dissipated. This adds additional work for the dispatchers and controllers, as crews “shop” for smoother altitudes.
Processing turbulence information and making that information relevant to forecasts of operational impacts is of critical importance to various aviation stakeholders, including pilots, controllers, dispatchers, and aviation meteorologists. While much of the focus on increasing traffic flow efficiency and capacity has been on enhancing convective weather forecasts, turbulence also has a significant impact on the daily operations, including safety, in the NAS. When compared to convection, turbulence adds another layer of complexity. Specifically, (a) since turbulence cannot be physically observed by pilots/controllers, its prediction is probabilistic in nature, and (b) different types of aircraft and missions can be affected in varying ways by the same atmospheric conditions.
The NextGen concept for the utilization of weather information includes a process of weather “translation;” a process designed to reduce/mitigate the errors associated with conversion of predicted weather information into operational decision making information. Until recently this process was largely a “mental” conversion, and performed by the operational decision maker in reading and interpreting the weather forecast. Due to the large variances in personal experience and biases, the same underlying weather information could be translated into a wide variety of operational expectations. This lack of consistency in interpretation often yields incomplete or inconsistent operational decisions that do not effectively mitigate the impacts of the weather itself.
Previous turbulence work under FAA Contracts # SE2020 TORP 1210 Contract #DTFAWA-10-D-00033 and Volpe Center Interagency Agreement Project Numbers FB51C1 and FB51C2 sought to address these requirements through a phased development of a Turbulence Avoidance Model (TAM). In Phase 1, an original methodology for the FAA to characterize turbulence encounters within the NAS and then model pilot behavior to these encounters was developed – the TAM. Specifically, a flight trajectory analysis was conducted, which involved using models and algorithms to process historical flight data, both planned and actually flown trajectories, and to identify events of interest by identifying pilots’ responses to turbulence encounters. In particular, the events of interest include pilots’ decisions whether or not to change altitude and/or to deviate from a planned trajectory.
Next, multiple sources of turbulence data were integrated to develop a depiction of the status of atmospheric turbulence along the flight trajectories in the NAS. This was followed by development of methods to determine convective storm intensity along the flight paths. Finally, an original methodology was developed to identify turbulence encounters within the NAS. The method allows for the detection of turbulence encounters at various turbulence intensity levels and identify pilots’ responses to these encounters. With this information, a unique Turbulence Encounters Repository was created in which to archive the information for the FAA.
In Phase 2, the accuracy and consistency of the turbulence observations, forecasts and nowcasts within the repository were analyzed. This task allowed a comparison of spatial and temporal accuracy and consistency in depicting actual status of the atmosphere. The analysis results were then stratified based on several factors, including type of turbulence impact scenario, region in the NAS, and look-ahead time (for forecasts).
Next, an additional 6-12 months of turbulence and traffic demand data were processed and added to the repository set up in Phase 1. This expanded the existing repository of turbulence encounters data with additional datasets to support more extensive statistical analysis of pilot behavior models.
A detailed description of a methodology for identifying and quantifying pilot behavior in response to turbulence encounters was developed. Data sources, processing steps, and outputs to develop a parameterized representation of pilot behaviors were defined. These pilot behavior models were stratified based on different factors, including aircraft weight class, turbulence intensity and/or dwell time, and airline policy/tolerance to turbulence encounters. All data in the turbulence analysis repository were processed to develop statistically significant pilot behavior models for TAM that were parameterized based on a variety of factors. The TAM system was then modified to use these models to generate weather avoidance fields.
The Phase 2 process continued with the validation of pilot behavior models derived using historical data via consultation with stakeholders and analysis.
The FAA requires Phase 3 of the TAM project to build on this work by implementing a fully functional prototype of the TAM model, and using that protype, operationally and analytically validates the model performance, Expansion of the existing turbulence encounter repository must be updated with the additional data. Specifically, Phase 3 will provide a continuation of the scientific research, engineering, and technology capability development program from TAM Phase 1 and 2 that forcused on increasing NAS safety and capacity through integration of turbulence information into a ATM decision support tools, and provide further enhancements and capabilities that will contribute to meeting current and future requirements in turbulence forecasting for ATM. Overall task areas are expected to include:
1. Develop a fully-functional protype TAM implementation integrating real-time turbulence forecasts, nowcast, pilot weather reports, in-site on-board aircraft-based turbulence reports, processing TAM four-dimensional avoidance grids, and generating and displaying TAM outputs. The prototype should be web-based and provide display of TAM inputs, and outputs. It should also allow users to adjust to key TAM model parameters.
2. Validate the TAM prototype using operational feedback from stakeholders and integrate feedback results into the prototype.
3. Validate the TAM prototype using analytical verification methods comparing turbulence forecasts, observations, TAM pilot behavior predictions, and actual pilot behavior. Integrate analyical validation results into the prototype.
4. Expand existing repository of turbulence encounters data with additional datasets to support more extensive analysis and validation of the TAM prototype.
2. Nature of Market Survey
Among other things, responses to this market survey will be used to determine if there is adequate competition to compete the contract. This survey is being conducted in accordance with FAA Acquisition Management System (AMS) Section 184.108.40.206.1. This survey will support market research obtained from multiple sources and will be utilized for planning purposes only.
This market survey does not guarantee that an agreement, solicitation or procurement of any kind will be issused and it should not be construed as a commitment by the Government to enter into a contract. If a solicitation is issused, it will be announced on beta.sam.gov. It is the prospective offeror's responsibility to monitor this site for the release of any such solicitation.
The acquisition strategy for the procurement has not been determined at this time; however, it is anticipated that it will be awarded as a Firm Fixed Price (FFP) contract. The results of this market survey will be used as one of the determining factors in deciding on the Agency's acquisition strategy for the procurement.
3. Objectives for this Market Survey
The responses to this Market Survey will be used for informational and planning purposes only and will not be released.
1. This is a Market Survey. This is not a Screening Information Request (SIR) or Request for Proposals (RFP) of any kind;
2. The FAA is not seeking or accepting unsolicited proposals;
3. All vendors responding to this announcement are responsible for ensuring the documents submitted contain the appropriate proprietary marking. Any proprietary information submitted must be explicitly and conspicuously marked by the repondent as proprietary. If appropriately marked, such information will not be released to the public by the FAA, except as required under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or any other applicable law, regulation and/or policy. The Government may transfer documents provided by a respondent to any department or agency within the Executive Branch if the information relates to matters within the organization's jurisdiction;
4. The FAA has the option of conducting one-on-one communications as deemed appropriate without the obligation to hold communications with all respondents;
5. Providing a response to this Market Survey neither qualifies respondents for, nor excludes respondents from, responding to any resulting SIR, if any;
6. Respondent participation in any informational session is not a promise of furture business with the FAA;
7. The FAA will not pay for any information received or costs incurred in preparing the response to the market survey; and
8. Any costs associated with the market survey submittal is solely at the interested vendor's expense.
4. North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code
The FAA has tentatively identified North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code 541715 — Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (execpt Nanotechnology and Biotechnology). The size standard for this NAICS code is 1,000 employees. Respondents may recommend other appropriate NAICS codes for FAA consideration.
5. Submittal Requirements for Market Survey
Interested vendors are requeste to respond if they have relevant experience in performing the services of similar size, scope and complexity as those detailed in Section 1 above. Responses to this Market Survey must include the following information. Please provide in Microsoft Word or PDF format and do not exceed seven (7) pages in length.
a) The name and address of your company, URL of company website (if applicable), and point of contact with telephone number and email address.
b) Is your company registered in the System for Award Management (SAM) per AMS Clause 3.3.1-337? If not, when does your company intend to register? If registered, please state your company's Cage Code. Is your companyrepresented as a small business in www.SAM.gov for NAICS code 541715 — Research and development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life sciences (execpt Nanotechnology and Biotechnology) — If so, state the type of small business(e.g small business, service-disabled veteran-owned small business, HUBZone small business,, 8(a), women-owned small business, etc.). If respondent is recommending other appropriate NAICS codes for FAA consideration, respondent should still provide the information requested in this section for the recommended NAICS code(s).
c) Does your company have in-depth knowledge of Air Traffic Operations, ATM, and airline flight operations, crucial to effective integration of the TAM technology into FAA systems?. Please provide examples.
d) What capabilities do you have to develop, maintain, and archive large databases containing meteorological and air traffic management information?
e) Does your company have experience in designing or evaluating technologies for translating weather information into aviation constraints or operational impacts such as flow models or capacity constraint models? Please provide examples.
f) Does your company have experience in prototyping real-time air traffic decision systems? Please provide examples.
g) Does your company possesses in-depth knowledge of atmospheric dynamics, particularly in the area of atmospheric turbulence and its impact to NAS operations? Please provide examples.
h) If necessary, are you willing to put in place required contractual relationships with other vendors to ensure a smooth transition of the work?
i) Provide a concise description of:
- Your experience in performing efforts of similar size, scope and complexity to those described in Section 1. The description should include the size and type of those efforts.
- Your capabilities in performing services in the task areas identified in Section 1.
- The educational levels of the personnel who have performed such work for your company.
- Any comments or recommendations you may have to the effort(s) described in Section 1.
6. Delivery of Submittals
All responses to this market survey must be submitted by 2:00pm (Eastern Time) on September 24, 2021. Submissions received after this time and date will be considered late and may not be reviewed. All submittals, including attachments, should be submitted in electronic format (email) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the Market Survey title in the e-mail submission. No telephone calls will be accepted. There is no question and answer period for this market survey.