Volpe Center Highlights
Advance America's economic growth and competitiveness domestically and internationally through efficient and flexible transportation.
Pipeline Safety Information Systems Support (OPS)
The Volpe Center's Planning Methods Division supports RSPA's Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) in systems development and implementation tasks. In response to questions of understanding regarding pipeline regulations, OPS has developed over 1,000 specific interpretations. Recently, the Volpe Center delivered a system, based on Lotus Notes software, that provides OPS with on-line access to both the OPS regulations and interpretations. In addition, the Center is supporting OPS by working with the American Gas Association to facilitate its publishing of the OPS interpretations.
Installation of Airport Movement Safety System at Atlanta Airport (FAA)
The Volpe Center's Airport Surface Projects Office recently installed the Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport. The system, which was first installed at San Francisco's airport, has been updated and modified to operate with the Atlanta configuration. AMASS is an enhancement of the Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE-3) ground radar system that provides incursion alerts to controllers. AMASS adds a tracking capability for arriving aircraft, using the Terminal Radar Control radar, to improve the detection of possible runway incursions. AMASS prototype systems had been previously installed in San Francisco and Boston. The Atlanta installation will also be used as a "test bed" for incorporating information from other sensor systems into AMASS.
Wake Vortex Test System Installed at Memphis Airport (FAA)
A key role the Volpe Center plays in the FAA's aviation safety mission is providing technical support in the deployment of new technologies. Recently, as part of this role the Center installed a complete system of sensor and survelliance tools, including anemometers, a sonic wind profiler, cabling, power sources, and data collection equipment at the Memphis International Airport. The system, called the Ground Wind Vortex Sensing System, is now being used to measure airport wake vortices, the strong turbulence that follows aircraft in flight. This turbulence can be especially hazardous for aircraft that fly behind large aircraft on approach to an airport, where recovery from such turbulence is limited by an aircraft's low altitude. Installation of the system now enables characterization of vortex behavior by tracking vortices generated by landing aircraft under instrument flight conditions.
Transit Vehicle Crash Avoidance Through Intelligent Transportation Systems
As a result of a recent accident involving two light rail vehicles (LRV) at the Copley Station in Boston, MA, the Volpe Center's Accident Prevention Division was contacted by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to discuss the possibility of using Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) crash avoidance technologies to reduce the likelihood of such crashes in the future. Subsequently, a meeting was held at the Center with MBTA signal engineers, FRA, and Volpe Center staff involved in ITS applications. The MBTA representatives were interested in a near-term, low-cost advanced technology countermeasure to avoid rear-end crashes between two LRVs in the Green-Line underground tunnel. This type of crash is of concern to all transit systems that operate light rail vehicles. Based on the Center's expertise in crash avoidance research and advanced technology applications, the Accident Prevention Division staff suggested using practical headway detection devices based on either near-infrared or cooperative microwave radar as the sensory element of an automatic braking system.
Motor Vehicle Safety Standard for Side Impact Protection (NHTSA)
It was announced in the Federal Register on July 28, 1995, that Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 214, "Side Impact Protection," has been amended to extend dynamic testing requirements to a wider class of vehicles. On October 30, 1990, a notice was issued that amended Standard No. 214 to upgrade test procedures and performance requirements for passenger cars. The recently announced rule extended the dynamic testing requirements to LTVs (light trucks, small buses, etc.), and will be effective on September 1, 1998. Work at the Volpe Center by Dr. Thomas Trella provided critical data to support this extension of the dynamic testing requirements. Based on current vehicle sales data, NHTSA estimates that the percentage of LTVs will increase significantly in the future, with much of the increase comprised of small LTVs, which are potentially vulnerable to side crashes. The Center's support to NHTSA in this effort included finite element modeling of side impact scenarios and full scale side impact crash testing.
Airport Landslide Planning (FAA)
Section 129 of the Airport and Airway Safety, Capacity, Noise Improvement, and Intermodal Transportation Act of 1992 requires the Department to determine whether airport development projects located in designated economic "redevelopment areas" should receive special priority for grant funds awarded under the Airport Improvement Program. At the request of the FAA's Office of Airports, Volpe Center staff, led by Mr. Zale Anis, of the Service Assessment Division, investigated and prepared a report on this subject, which subsequently served as the basis for the response to Congress that was recently submitted by Secretary Pentilde;a.
Presentation of Technical Paper on Structural Integrity of Aging Airframes (FAA)
Dr. David Jeong, of the Volpe Center's Vehicle Crashworthiness Division, recently presented a paper at the International Conference on Computational Engineering Science, held in Mauna Lani, HI. The paper, "Mixed Mode Fatigue Crack Growth Related to Widespread Fatigue Damage," was co-authored by Dr. Pin Tong, of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Vehicle Crashworthiness Division. The paper was based on work that was done in support of the FAA's Aging Aircraft Program.