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Performance Data Analysis and Reporting System 

Innovative technology processing and visualizing air traffic data

In 1997, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) partnered with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to launch the Performance Data Analysis and Reporting System (PDARS) project. PDARS has continuously collected flight plan and radar track data since the initial prototype was deployed in 1999. This information comes from systems at Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCCs), which track and provide service to an aircraft for the duration of its journey, and at the Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facilities, which track and provide service to aircraft approaching and departing between 5 and 50 miles of an airport and most recently from Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) facilities, which track and provide service to aircraft on the airport surface and immediate vicinity. 

PDARS received NASA’s Administrator’s Award at the 2003 Turning Goals into Reality (TGIR) Conference in Williamsburg, Virginia. The Administrator’s Award is the most prestigious of the TGIR awards, which recognize the year’s top teams for their significant contributions to NASA’s aeronautics and space objectives.

Annually more than 60 million flights take off and touch down on runways across the United States. There will be one billion airline passengers by 2015 and this number is expected to triple by 2025. It is up to the FAA, as required by congressional mandates, to ensure safe and efficient trips for each and every flight. PDARS provides FAA Air Traffic Control (ATC) decision makers at the FAA headquarters, Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC), facility level, service areas as well as the William J. Hughes Technical Center with a dynamic set of comprehensive tools and methods for monitoring the health, quality, and safety of day-to-day ATC operations. Using a network of computers in air traffic control facilities across the country, PDARS analytic software enables processing of complex and extremely large data sets as well as reliable extraction of relevant information, allowing FAA users to quickly focus on operationally significant problems.

PDARS is extremely versatile. It can analyze operations of a single flight, operations within one airspace volume, facility, airport, or larger airspace system. It can look at single days or multiple days, limited only by the available data. PDARS has many applications for ATM safety assurance, including airspace optimization, incident analysis, impact analysis of temporary airspace modifications, etc. Visualization tools in PDARS are extremely suitable to support qualitative analysis. PDARS does not require any set level of data, provides results with little available data and better results for large data sets.

PDARS goals include:

  • Collect and manage data
  • Process data and generate reports daily
  • Share data and reports among facilities
  • Support exploratory and causal analysis
  • Archive basic operational data and measurements

ATAC is the primary contractor supporting the PDARS program. ATAC’s role includes systems engineering, software development and deployment, system monitoring, training, and user support.

For a comprehensive overview of PDARS, read “Performance Data Analysis Reporting System (PDARS) – A Valuable Addition to FAA Managers’ Toolsets” published in “Managing the Skies – A Journal of the FAA Managers Association.”