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Delays and congestion are terms often used to describe contemporary transportation systems - and the air transportation system is no exception. It has been estimated that congestion-induced delays cost commercial airlines billions of dollars in operating costs each year, to say nothing of the costs and inconvenience imposed on travelers and businesses who rely on air transportation. In many cases, the congestion and its resulting delays can be alleviated with foresight and careful planning.

The Detailed Policy Assessment Tool (DPAT) was developed by the MITRE Corporation's Center for Advanced Aviation System Development (CAASD). The DPAT tool can significantly aid in analyses aimed at finding solutions to the problems of congestion and delay. DPAT uses the Georgia Tech Time Warp (GTW) parallel discrete event simulation software.

The DPAT aviation work can provide a simulation of an entire air traffic control system, such as that of the continental United States, the Asia-Pacific region, or the entire world. Its purpose is to predict the system-wide congestion and delays casued by excessive traffic, poor weather, equipment outages, new facility construction, or any combination of these factors. The tool's unique contribution is its ability to propogate delays from one region of the system to another: for example, when bad weather in San Francisco affects traffic in Chicago - or across the Pacific Ocean, in Asia.

DPAT's visual graphical user interface (GUI) uses Web technologies for true platform-independent computing. DPAT runs on a commercial off-the-shelf multiprocessor UNIX machine. The recommended configuration is a Sun multiprocessor server, with 128 meg RAM and 4 processors. The program, input, and output require less than 100 megs of disk storage.

MITRE is a not-for-profit corporation working in the areas of public interest that addresses issues of critical national importance, combining systems engineering and information technology to develop innovative solutions that make a difference.