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Virtual PDARS

ATAC continues its role as the primary developer/integrator of PDARS in the modernized version of the system known as Virtual PDARS, or VPDARS. Due to the fast pace of technology advancement, coupled with the FAA’s plan to modernize the PDARS system, ATAC has developed an improved, cutting-edge platform for a data, applications and analytics delivery experience that meets the needs of stakeholders and FAA decision makers. 

PDARS has traditionally been a “distributed” system, meaning that access to its data and applications was limited to dedicated, standalone terminals called Analysis (ANA) machines. When such a system grows large, the scale-up problems are not always linear; there is often a significant increase in complexity, and things that are trivial when dealing with a smaller network of machines suddenly becomes a big deal. Distributed systems are important, but must overcome scalability and extensibility issues in order to achieve performance objectives.

In the words of Bryan Baszczewski, Manager, System Data and Infrastructure in AJR-G:

The legacy PDARS system maintains 147 dedicated analytical workstations at various facilities throughout the National Airspace System. Users must be physically co-located with the workstation at their facility for access to the system, whereas facilities without a workstation rely upon support from AJR-G for special requests. Virtual PDARS provides access to the facility data regardless of the users’ remote location. Virtual PDARS also expands user access to data generated from multiple facilities promoting common situational awareness of facilities’ interdependencies of traffic flow. Additionally, Virtual PDARS resolves the limitations of a single dedicated workstation at a facility with a solution allowing multiple concurrent user sessions, yielding an increase in the value and productivity of the system. Virtual PDARS reduces the technical footprint by centralizing functional capabilities of PDARS into an enterprise server cluster. Consolidating the capabilities of dedicated workstations into a virtualized environment will reduce the cost-inefficient technical refresh cycles of the legacy system, as well as the logistical overhead for components throughout the NAS. Another key characteristic of VPDARS is that system’s security posture is hardened by removing legacy components that reduce vulnerabilities, and transition to a consolidated secure portal.

VPDARS is a cloud-based capability that provides access to high-fidelity PDARS data and visualization as a service from any platform connected to the FAA mission support network (e.g., desktop, laptop, mobile devices); therefore there is no designated workstation required. Its open architecture-based solution provides a high degree of scalability by modularizing the applications and allowing them to be run in virtual environments. From the network storage to the processing power of servers, the entire system is designed for scalability and compatibility with the cloud.

VPDARS is built on web portal technology that provides the functions and features to authenticate and identify the users using Single Sign On (SSO) technology and provide them with an easy, intuitive, personalized and user-customizable web-interface which is a ‘one stop shop’ for everything PDARS. VPDARS is the perfect starting point for everyday aviation and reporting tasks that usually would require disparate types and sources of information and tools. The ability to gather all necessary information and tools in one environment is a huge time-saver.

Predefined custom reports are an important analysis product provided by VPDARS that are delivered through a web-based interface allowing users to quickly search, find, and access the reporting information relevant to their task. Examples of predefined reports include: OPSNET holding, turn-to-final, go-arounds, diversions, and RNP conformance.

For a comprehensive overview of VPDARS, read “Virtual Performance Data Analysis Reporting System (VPDARS) – Invaluable Enterprise NAS Performance Monitoring Asset During COVID-19” published in “Managing the Skies – A Journal of the FAA Managers Association.”