Derive aircraft motions, forces, and accelerations from radar range data.
This program was developed by Ames Research Center, in cooperation with the National Transportation Safety Board, as a technique for deriving time histories of an aircraft's motion from Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar records. This technique uses the radar range and azimuth data, along with the downlinked altitude data, to derive an expanded set of data which includes airspeed, lift, attitude angles (pitch, roll, and heading), etc. This technique should prove useful as a source of data in the investigation of commercial airline accidents and in the analysis of accidents involving aircraft which do not have onboard data recorders (e.g., military, short-haul, and general aviation).
The technique used to determine the aircraft motions involves smoothing of raw radar data. These smoothed results, in combination with other available information (wind profiles and aircraft performance data), are used to derive the expanded set of data. This program uses a cubic least-square fit to smooth the raw data. This moving-arc procedure provides a smoothed time history of the aircraft position, the inertial velocities, and accelerations. Using known winds, these inertial data are transformed to aircraft stability axes to provide true airspeed, thrust-drag, lift, and roll angle. Further derivation, based on aircraft dependent performance data, can determine the aircraft angle of attack, pitch, and heading angle. Results of experimental tests indicate that values derived from ATC radar records using this technique agree favorably with airborne measurements.
This program was released through COSMIC as program ARC-11132. The italicized text above is from the official COSMIC release.