Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D. in Flight Transportation, 1964
College of Aeronautics, Cranfield, England, S.M. in Aerodynamics, 1957
University of Toronto, B.A.Sc. in Aeronautical Engineering, 1955


Professor Simpson is the Chairman of Flight Transportation Associates and Professor Emeritus in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is the founder and former Director of the MIT Flight Transportation Laboratory. Dr. Simpson's principal specialization is air traffic control systems and operations. Other research areas include the application of operations research techniques to air transportation problems and airport planning.

Hong Kong

Served as a key investigator on FTA's analysis of ATC/airspace issues for a replacement airport site selection study at Hong Kong. Analyzed air traffic control and airspace issues for development of Hong Kong's new airport at Chek Lap Kok. This effort included the design of arrival and departure procedures, layout of the airspace structure, recommendations for navaids, and plans for controller training and transitioning to the new airport.

Future Air Traffic Management Systems

Led FTA's research for NASA into advanced air transportation technologies (AATT) for civil aviation. This study identified promising elements for the modernization of the global air transportation system. Specifically, FTA developed functional descriptions of advanced ATM system concepts, assessments of effectiveness of ATC systems in the future environment, and assistance on cost/benefit studies of satellite-based air navigation services.

MIT Cooperative Research Program

Established and directed the Cooperative Research Program at MIT. This program is supported by a dozen leading aviation companies, including TWA, Boeing, McDonnell-Douglas, Pratt & Whitney, and Fokker Aircraft. Current research projects involve developing capacity-yield management systems and computerized scheduling systems for Delta and Northwest Airlines.

National Research Plan for Aviation Human Factors

Principal investigator on FTA's study of human factors in air traffic control for the Federal Aviation Administration. Assembled a team of leading experts from industry and government to review the status of human factors research, identify the future requirements, and recommend national priorities for research support.

Joint University Program in Air Transportation Research

Directed the Joint University Program in Air Transportation Research at MIT sponsored by the NASA Langley Research Center and the FAA Technical Center. This program conducts analytical studies and experimental evaluations of civil aviation navigation systems, including flight testing of GPS and Loran-C. Currently, this research is focused on the application of Artificial Intelligence technologies to ATC operations and management.

U.S. Department of Transportation

Conducted a study of the potential applications of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in managing delays throughout the National Airspace System. The existing Flow Control system, enroute Air Route Traffic Control Center operations, and Terminal Radar Control procedures were carefully examined to identify activities or processes that might be candidates for improvement with AI technology. A real-time expert system was proposed which would improve the short term prediction of airport landing and takeoff capacity, suggest a schedule for changing runway operating configurations given weather and traffic predictions, and use timely reports of actual weather to update the prediction of local weather changes at an airport.

Other Federal Aviation Administration Research Studies

Initiated a major effort to improve the methodology used to establish separation criteria in ATC operations. The reduction of vertical separation at flight levels above FL 290, and the reduction of oceanic separations under Automatic Dependent Surveillance (ADS) were studied. Reviewed the certification process used by the FAA to qualify airline operators for extended range operations over water using twin engine jet transports. Developed improved collision risk models for a wide range of traffic environments. At the request of the Program Manager performed a review of the Joint-NASA/FAA Wake Vortex Research Plan, 1994 to make recommendation on possible revisions. This entailed compiling a bibliography of all Wake Vortex research around the world in the last 25 years.

Air Transport Association

Principal Investigator for an independent critical review of the FAA's 1996 revision of Wake Vortex Safety Criteria. The reclassification of weight categories which govern the IFR wake turbulence separations between aircraft resulted in a loss of runway capacity and severe delays during poor weather at major US airports. FTA prepared a report which made specific recommendations to improve the safety and efficiency of future operations of the ATC system in handling wake turbulence.

Airline Consulting

Completed research and consulting assignments for numerous airlines and airline industry associations, among them Olympic Airways, Pan American Airways, United Airlines, Northeast Airlines, New York Airways, Flying Tiger, the Air Line Pilots Association and the Air Transport Association of America. These assignments have covered topics including economics, market research, traffic forecasting, fleet acquisition, airline management, computer flight planning, airline computer scheduling, third-level airline operations, and applications of future aviation technology to air transportation. Of recent particular note, performed revenue management studies for Delta Airlines. Also engaged in work concerning the development of an airline schedule planning tool for Northwest Airlines.

Schiphol Airport Amsterdam

Principal investigator for the FTA study which evaluated the safety of current and future operations at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands. The study examined ATC facilities and procedures at Amsterdam and compared them with Paris, Frankfurt and London. Participated in the study of new Fifth Runway, and in the assessment of third-party risk from aircraft accidents.

Airport Planning Studies

Applied computer tools to airport analyses in taxiway simulation studies for the new Munich Airport, as well as apron simulation studies for Arlanda International Airport in Stockholm. Conducted a management organization study for the Philadelphia International Airport; participated in the Royal Inquiry into the need for a second airport at Toronto; acted as consultant to the Minister of Transport of Greece in reviewing airport planning for the new Athens Airport; and conducted V/STOL planning for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Other projects include noise monitor system studies for Logan International Airport and runway noise studies for Vancouver Airport.

Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

Investigated the New York terminal area air traffic control system. Designed a preliminary plan for accommodating civil tiltrotor traffic to Manhattan without interfering with fixed-wing traffic to JFK, LaGuardia or Newark.

Pease International Tradeport

Involved in the preparation of future aviation scenarios and forecasts for redevelopment of the former AFB. Assisted in analysis of aircraft operational procedures and formulation of mitigation measures for airport noise impacts.

Logan International Airport

Principal consultant in FTA's study of Boston's regional airport system. Responsible for the development and evaluation of possible future regional air transportation network scenarios. Participated in the evaluation of runway capacity and delays at Logan. Principal investigator for development of the Preferential Runway Advisory System for the FAA Air Traffic Controllers, which provides continuous recommendations for runway configurations to accommodate weather, demand, operational outages and noise-sharing goals.


Dr. Simpson is frequently called on to participate on government, industry, and trade association panels on airport problems. He was a member of an Environmental Protection Agency task force to study airport noise; moderator of a panel on the technical status of commercial airports; and a consultant to the President's Aviation Advisory Commission. He was a member of the Committee of Transportation Research Information Systems of the Transportation Research Board, National Academy of Science; Advisory Committee on Aeronautical Operating Problems, National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Technical Committee on Aircraft Operations, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics); Technical Committee on Air Transportation Systems; Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress; and U.S. Council of International Chamber of Commerce.

He has recently completed a textbook entitled Introduction to Air Traffic Control Engineering, which will be published in the near future. This book addresses ATC operations, analytical concepts, capacity and delay, aircraft operations and performance, communications technology, navigation and guidance technology, surveillance and tracking technology, automation, and human factors.




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