MITRE Engineer Has a Passion for Aviation and Travel

May 2012
Brennan Haltli
Brennan Haltli

Listening to his grandfathers talk about their days as military pilots was just the beginning. Before long, Brennan Haltli decided he too wanted to fly. He soloed at 16, got his private pilot's license at 17, and later received his commercial, multi-instrument, and flight instructor ratings and certificates. At MITRE, he's been able to combine his passion for aviation with his engineering background and build a career he loves.

Haltli is a systems engineer in MITRE's Center for Advanced Aviation System Development (CAASD), the federally funded research and development center for the Federal Aviation Administration.

He came to MITRE in 2003 after completing his aerospace engineering degree at the University of Virginia. "MITRE is a good choice for new graduates," he says. "I was very fortunate that my managers gave me a lot of responsibility up front. Plus, I was surrounded by several great mentors with extensive operational and engineering experience. I've always believed that when you're working with smart people, you have a lot of opportunity to grow and challenge yourself."

In his first couple of years here, Haltli primarily supported performance based navigation (PBN) projects. "I spent a lot of time traveling around the country helping implement and assess terminal area navigation (RNAV) arrival and departure procedures. I developed a methodology for collecting baseline metrics at each airport and then performed post-implementation analysis specific to each site. It was a great a learning experience."

New Technologies Improve Airspace Use

Now a project team manager, Haltli leads several projects including the enhanced flight vision system (EFVS). EFVS uses infrared and millimeter wave technology to give pilots the ability to fly in low-visibility conditions.

"We started by providing the FAA with EFVS concept development and use cases. Next, we performed operational safety analysis which included flight tests. Now we are working with FAA and industry to develop system standards and provide input required for final rulemaking."

As his team finishes the standards development for EFVS, they are also working on new concepts and procedures for synthetic vision systems (SVS). This includes developing a SVS display capability in MITRE's IDEA Lab for future human factors testing.

Another project that he has supported for several years is the closely spaced parallel operations project. It examines how airports in the National Airspace System can better use parallel runways or multiple runways by applying new arrival and departure procedures or modifying existing ones. "We're looking at what can be done to increase efficiency at airports that have multiple runways, to help reduce delay and the impact of poor weather conditions," he says.

Using empirical data collected during parallel approach operations over the past five years, MITRE applied new technologies, developed models, and conducted analyses that result in better utilization of parallel runways without compromising safety. "Now we're working with the FAA to modify the existing runway separation standards to provide immediate benefits to airports with multiple runways, while still maintaining an acceptable level of safety."

Since air traffic congestion is not limited to the U.S., Haltli often supports international work programs. "Airports' capacity and congestion around the world are impacted significantly by increased air travel. Solving these issues and achieving better use of airport facilities without compromising safety is a global goal."

These types of projects also benefit from his flying experience. "I think it's a rare opportunity as a pilot and an engineer to work on such a wide range of aviation related problems and use both your operational and educational background. I've been on several test flights with government and commercial operators. During these flights, you get a chance to see the concepts and use the technologies that we're developing. That's an incredibly valuable perspective."

Have Passport Will Travel

Over the past nine years at MITRE, he has had numerous opportunities to travel both domestically and internationally, filling his passport to the point additional pages needed to be added. "For my PBN work several years ago, I traveled to airports in Denver, Dallas, Las Vegas, Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta. More recently, I've attended conferences and presented papers in Italy, Germany, Egypt, and the Netherlands.

"I've also been to India and United Arab Emirates to work with their respective civil aviation authorities as they grapple with increased demands and operational growth issues, helping them provide more efficient use of their air traffic facilities."

Fortunately for Haltli, he loves to travel. "Before coming to MITRE, I backpacked all over Australia, Europe, and South America. Then in 2008, I asked my management for a three-month [unpaid] sabbatical and backpacked Asia. That trip took me to Japan, China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. It was an amazing experience."

—by Kay M. Upham

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