Aviation Week: MITRE Technology Eliminates Clearance Surprises and Confusion

September 21, 2018
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Sitting in a Piper Archer II on the ramp at Northern Virginia's Manassas Regional Airport/Harry P. Davis Field (KHEF) on a sunny June afternoon, Paul Diffenderfer had some excellent intel on the instrument flight rules (IFR) clearance the tower controller was about to read to him. That's because Diffenderfer, a principal air traffic management (ATM) advisor with The MITRE Corp., had just received an email with all the ingredients of his expected clearance—down to the language the controller would most likely use.

The "expected clearance email" was part of a three-month demonstration in which the FAA and MITRE used mobile devices, the FAA’s System Wide Information Management (SWIM) and automation to help simplify single-pilot IFR operations. The May 16 to July 29 program was only for pilots filing IFR flight plans from Manassas, but follow-on efforts are likely to expand such practices out into the broader general aviation and business aviation community.

The mobile IFR-clearance project germinated from an idea Diffenderfer and his MITRE colleague Kevin Long, a lead human-centered engineer, submitted in 2014 to an internal MITRE innovation program.

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