As Managing Member of NASA ARC SimLabs prime contractor, Metis Flight Research Associates, Metis engineers provide engineering support to all SimLabs facilities, including the Vertical Motion Simulator, Future Flight Central and the Crew-Vehicle Systems Research Facility. Metis operates and performs sustaining engineering for all simulation facilities, while partnering with researchers to customize distributed real-time simulations, generate and validate research data.

Recently, our team built a lunar lander physical cab and landing simulation for NASA’s Artemis mission. We developed simulations for two different competitors for the Artemis downselect to build the new generation lunar lander. As part of this work, lunar dynamics models were integrated into the Vertical Motion Simulator host system, alongside lunar visuals and a moon-oriented motion system. We developed custom visual heads-up and heads-down displays to be used in the simulated moon landings, and integrated them into a fully custom cab utilizing full in-house fabrication facilities.


Metis contributes to multiple subprojects in the NASA Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) portfolio. Most recently, the National Campaign integrated Dry Run test flights were conducted at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, with airspace and operations subject matter expertise and systems engineering provided by Metis employees working at SimLabs at Ames Research Center. The NC Dry Run test flights utilized the Live Virtual Constructive middleware infrastructure developed by Metis employees originally as part of the Unmanned Aerial Systems in the National Airspace System project.

Metis software and systems engineers have also developed a number of platforms around Advanced Air Mobility concepts, including flight models and airport and flight operations for future eVTOL vehicles, where we have explored eVTOL integrations into the San Francisco Bay Area, Dallas Fort-Worth area, Los Angeles, and others.


Metis engineers supporting the NASA SimLabs contract provide software development and operational support for Air Traffic Management Exploration (ATM-X), building software for the recent X3 simulation as well as the upcoming X4 simulation.

Metis employees and SimLabs members developed the Air Traffic Generator (ATG) software providing simulated background traffic for the scenarios, the only research target generator able to provide the aircraft traffic volumes and accuracy needed for the simulations. As part of this work, novel Advanced Air Mobility flight models were integrated into the ATG system alongside traditional commercial fixed-wing aircraft flight models.


NASA’s Future Flight Central provides a 360-degree virtual control tower, used for air traffic control research, immersive visualization, and large-scale vehicle simulation. As part of our work on the NASA Ames Research Center’s SimLabs contract, Metis builds distributed simulations, creates new airport and airspace adaptations, and simulates air traffic control and pilot operations with real or virtual controllers and pilots.

We partner with researchers to investigate advances in airport operations, automation in air traffic control, autonomous vehicles and fleet coordination, and Advanced Air Mobility concepts. Most recently, we utilized FFC to simulate AAM air routes through the San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to that, we used it for ground operations optimization for ATD-2 in CLT, to test airport layouts for LAX, and as a VIP viewing center for flight tests at Edwards AFB.

The NASA Langley Research Center Airspace and Traffic Operations Simulation

Metis software engineers design, maintain and modify aircraft mathematical models and simulation software components for multiple NASA programs. Our capabilities are reflected in our experience solving challenges on numerous fronts which gives us a wealth of experience to stand on. A significant contribution by the Metis team was the development of a real-time scenario generation capability for the ATOS.

Among the more meaningful and impactful contributions:

  • Metis recently designed and integrated simulated cockpit displays used in the Technologies for Airplane State Awareness experiment run on the Navy's Kraken simulator. This software brings in live aircraft data into the simulation environment, and greatly enhances the capability of both the ATOS and SMART-NAS systems.
  • Metis developed comprehensive visualization techniques using Google Earth KML to enhance researcher analysis, scenario generation, and data validation. Maintaining 4dview software used by ATOS developers to visualize the 4-D paths of dozens of simulated aircraft into large airports while assisting with defect identification and proving when some defects were addressed.

UAS in the NAS

At NASA Ames Research Center, Metis is an active and critical contributor to NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the National Airspace System project (known as UAS-NAS) to maintain and upgrade its LCV-DE simulation environment, to conduct investigative simulations and to perform flight tests. As SimLabs prime contractor, Metis has supported the development and validation of Detect and Avoid (DAA) and Command and Control (C2) technologies for the UAS-NAS project. 

Metis staff utilized their thorough understanding of the airspace and NAS systems, as well as new emerging technologies to develop requirements for and test C-SWaP surveillance systems that can detect and track non-cooperative aircraft (those without transponder or ADS-B).  Simlabs support has resulted in enabling the RTCA committee 228 to publish MOPS for UAS operating in non-terminal areas. SimLabs DSRL lab provides the “HUB” function to integrate live, virtual and constructive elements from various NASA centers and industry partners to perform UAS-NAS research. The “HUB” functionality from the DSRL was recently provided to and utilized by the 6 FAA-designated UAS Test Sites for simulation and flight testing. The Metis team received a NASA Group Achievement award for UAS-NAS contributions in FY2019.


Metis supported the NASA Langley Research Center’s Traffic Aware Strategic Aircrew Requests (TASAR) program with software engineering expertise. TASAR features a cockpit automation system that monitors for potential flight trajectory improvements and displays them to the pilot. These wind-optimized flight trajectory changes are pre-cleared of potential conflicts with other known air traffic, weather hazards and airspace restrictions.

Specifically, Metis made modifications to the Traffic Aware Planner (TAP) display and engine components in preparation for the Alaska Airlines flight trials based on requirements given to us by the TAP research team. We performed final integration and testing of all TAP components prior to delivery and prepared TAP delivery packages. Metis also developed the Ground Data Processor, which ingests convective weather and turbulence data from a 3rd party vendor and converts the data to simplified 4D polygons used by the TAP display and engine.

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