Mission and History

Metal sculpture of the globe frames aircraft's flight in gray skies.

MITRE has helped the FAA address the nation's most critical aviation issues since 1959. In 1990 the FAA established an FFRDC—CAASD—and selected MITRE to operate it.

In addition to supporting the FAA, CAASD collaborates with civil aviation authorities around the world, all of which face similar challenges in the areas of safety, security, and efficiency. Our relationships with these organizations enable us to increase our knowledge of best practices in aviation and share these with other stakeholders.


CAASD's groundbreaking contributions to aviation include:

  • Creating the logic for the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), one of the most important safety systems in aviation. TCAS is now the world-standard system for collision avoidance on commercial aircraft.
  • Building the prototype of the User Request Evaluation Tool (URET). This nationally deployed tool enables controllers to detect and resolve potential conflicts among aircraft in en route airspace.
  • Engineering Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, or ADS-B, which enabled the shift from a radar-based surveillance system to one where aircraft transmit their locations, altitudes, and speeds not only to air traffic control centers but also directly to other nearby pilots. ADS-B is expected to provide substantial efficiency gains while also reducing infrastructure costs in the years ahead.
  • Inventing the Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) Beacon Radio, a lightweight and cost-effective means for small aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems to use ADS-B technology to obtain greater situation awareness and alert other airspace users of their presence.
  • Improving airspace use nationwide through the development of airspace redesign processes and the TARGETS tool, which is now the FAA approved tool for the development of performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures. PBN allows equipped aircraft to fly more efficiently to and from airports, saving time and fuel.
  • Partnering with government and the aviation industry to create the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) initiative, a program in which U.S. airlines, aircraft manufacturers, and government entities share and analyze their safety data in order to proactively identify and address safety issues.
  • Developing the Arrival Departure Window capability, which provides controllers with a visualization tool to help them maintain safe distances among aircraft in the terminal area.

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Read our fact sheet to learn more about the Center for Advanced Aviation System Development.