Wake Turbulence - Re-categorization

This research and development program focuses on satisfying the capacity demands of future aviation growth. The last full review of wake separation standards used by air traffic control occurred nearly 20 years ago in the early 1990s. Since then, air carrier operations and fleet mix have changed dramatically, airport runway complexes have changed and new aircraft designs (A-380, very light jets, unmanned aircraft systems) have been introduced into the National Airspace System (NAS). The 20 year old wake separation standards still provide safe separation of aircraft from each other's wakes but it no longer provides the most capacity efficient spacing and sequencing of aircraft in approach and en-route operations. This loss of efficient spacing is adding to the gap between demand and the capacity the NAS can provide. This program is part of a joint EUROCONTROL and the Federal Highway Administration (FAA) program that has reviewed the current required wake mitigation aircraft separations used in both the USA's and Europe's air traffic control processes and has determined the current standards can be safely modified to increase the operational capacity of airports and airspace that will have heavy operational demand in the NextGen era. Recently work was done to accommodate the A380 class of aircraft and work continues to address introduction of other large aircraft into the NAS. This program builds on that joint work and is accomplishing a more general review to include regional jets, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), microjets, etc. The work is phased, and started with optimizing the present "1990's" standards to reflect the change in fleet mix that has occurred over the last 20 years. In 2010, the program will provide a set of recommendations for international review that focus on changes to the present static standards. To accomplish this, the program developed enhanced analysis tools to link observed wake behavior to standards, determined safety risk associated with potential new standards relative to existing standards; will simulate and validate new separation standards; integrate the work being accomplished by EUROCONTROL; and conduct high level analyses to link wake transport and demise characteristics to aircraft flight and surrounding weather parameters. The next phase of the Wake Re-Categorization program is now underway. By 2014, it will develop sets of tailored leader aircraft and follower aircraft wake separation standards whose application would depend on flight conditions and aircraft performance; resulting in being able to get more aircraft into and out of airports and in the same volume of airspace. By 2020, the final phase of the program will have developed the aircraft and ground based capabilities required to achieve the NextGen concept of safe, efficient dynamic pair-wise wake mitigation separations of aircraft. The dynamic pair-wise separation capability will allow the densest feasible safe packing of aircraft in a given airspace.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Program Information: NextGen


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Aviation Administration

    NextGen Integration and Implementation Office
    950 L'Enfant Plaza North, SW
    Washington, DC    20024
  • Project Managers:

    Liang, Diana

  • Performing Organizations:

    Federal Aviation Administration

    800 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  United States  20591
  • Start Date: 20120510
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 30629

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01465296
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Department of Transportation
  • Files: RIP, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 2:58PM