DASC 2020

The 39th Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC) promises to continue its rich tradition as the preeminent R&D Conference in the field of digital avionics offered. In addition to the increasingly diverse background of attendees and relevant technical topics discussed, the conference offers a conducive environment for educational and recreational opportunities for everyone to explore. We are positive that you will have a memorable and educational experience at the 39th DASC

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Welcome to DASC 2020

Welcome to the 39th (Virtual) Digital Avionics Systems Conference

Greetings! Welcome to the 39th Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC). This year’s conference is historic, being the first virtual DASC. It seems like yesterday though it was back in July of 2019, when I took up the mantle of leading the 39th Digital Avionics Systems Conference. Although it was originally planned as a live event in San Antonio, Texas, it was and still is, an immense honor for me to have the opportunity to lead this prestigious conference. It is a defining moment in my broad spatio-temporal journey from Ghana, through Sweden, to the USA; and, in my technical journey from Electrical Engineering through Computer Science to Human Factors in Aviation.

A year ago, little did we all know that life as we knew it was about to change due to the global COVID-19 pandemic with its unprecedented and unpredictable impacts. I hope the entire DASC community is doing well under the current circumstances. My sincere condolences to anyone who may have lost a loved one through this pandemic. Nonetheless, we made the decision back in May based on guidance from a Contingency Committee, to conduct a fully virtual conference. Sorry San Antonio, it is always sad saying goodbye (if even for a while) but we shall be back!

The Organizing Committee has worked tirelessly to make this virtual conference a reality without losing any of the traditional in-person experience. There are obvious unique challenges and opportunities associated with the virtual format. Different time zones are a challenge that requires a satisfying solution. Considering the global spread of conference attendees, any time window of activities is bound to be an inconvenience to an attendee somewhere.  To address this, we purposefully scheduled all plenary sessions at an optimal time for all time zones. In keeping with our original conference site, San Antonio, Central Daylight Time (CDT) time zone (GMT-5) will be the official time reference for the virtual conference. We also extended the technical sessions through Friday (16th) which was not originally a part of the conference week. Additionally, all technical sessions will be available online, on-demand to all attendees, for four weeks after the end of the conference.  We hope these decisions will provide our attendees with an optimal program for all.

The theme of the conference is “Certifiable and Secure Artificial Intelligence in Safety-Critical Air Transportation Systems.” It was selected to provide a platform for exploring and discussing the broad application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in aviation. Despite advances in robust, high performance AI with new capabilities, its application to safety-critical air transportation systems presents unique challenges. Over the week of the 39th DASC, we will explore essentials for AI systems for air transportation systems through the lenses of over two hundred original research papers and posters in nine technical tracks. My Technical Program Chairs, Dr. Michael Dorneich (Iowa State University) and Dr. Terry Morris (NASA Langley Research Center) have done an amazing job putting together a technical program that will engage conference attendees throughout the week.

We have two inspiring keynote speakers on Tuesday: Dr. Nicholas Roy of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Mr. Chris Benson of Lockheed Martin. They are accomplished speakers with depth and breadth in the Artificial Intelligence domain and will bring perspectives from both academia and industry.  The second half of Tuesday’s program also includes the Students Research Competition (SRC) followed by the opening set of Technical sessions. Please attend to encourage the finalists as they present and answer questions on their research. We will breakout into various tracks for technical sessions after this event.

 In these trying times, the role of the aerospace industry in helping address some of the challenges of this pandemic has been amazing. For example, the rapid response of the aerospace sector by making aircraft available for cargo deliveries is one of the actions we can all relate to and be proud of. To expand this theme further, we have scheduled a panel discussion on Wednesday on the topic “UAS and Autonomy Technologies for Pandemic/Humanitarian Crisis.”

Technical sessions continue through the rest of Wednesday, including an hour-long Exhibition event after the mid-day break. Sponsors will showcase products and services, answer questions and present opportunities for collaboration. This event is also scheduled as a stand-alone to encourage participation by the entire conference. Let’s all attend to show appreciation to our generous sponsors for supporting the conference.

Our Awards Ceremony is the first event on Thursday.  We will present the Best of Tracks, Best of Conference, and Best Student Paper awards.  In addition, AIAA Digital Avionics Technical Committee (DATC) will present the Dr. John C. Ruth Digital Avionics Award and the Distinguished Institution Award. This is the highlight of the conference and you can’t afford to miss it. Poster Sessions are scheduled after midday breaks on both Thursday and Friday. Interspersed with these standalone events are the breakout technical sessions covering all nine tracks.

Despite the limitations of the virtual conference platform, I encourage all attendees to utilize the communication and interaction technologies and tools available to full effect. Let us brainstorm, network and interact as we would have done in-person. There are bound to be issues with this being our first ever virtual conference. Throughout the conference, questions, suggestions and feedback for real-time improvement are welcome.

The fact that we are having this conference is a compliment to the resilience of the DASC Organizing Committee and the entire DASC community. Special thanks to the Session Chairs, Track Chairs, Technical Program Chairs, Conference Organizing Committee and Contingency Committee. My sincere appreciation also goes to our sponsors who in the face of tough economic times in general, and for our industry in particular, chose to support our conference. Thank you!

Finally, on behalf of the AIAA Digital Avionics Technical Committee, the IEEE Aerospace Electronics Systems Society and Conference Organizing Committee, I’ll like to welcome you to a wonderful virtual DASC week. As Nobel Laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini urges us, “Above all, don't fear difficult moments. The best comes from them.” Out of the COVID-19 pandemic has come the ground-breaking first Virtual Digital Avionics Systems Conference. Out of this difficult moment will come the best DASC ever! To quote another Nobel Laureate Albert Szent-Györgyi, “Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.” I look forward to a week of groundbreaking research presentations, exceptional innovation and constructive, thought-provoking discussions from diverse perspectives.

Wishing you a week of rich virtual DASC experience. Thank you for your participation.

Dr. Emmanuel Letsu-Dake
39th DASC General Chair
Honeywell Aerospace


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DASC 2021

Please join us in San Antonio, Texas for the 40th AIAA/IEEE Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC), the preeminent R&D Conference in the field of digital avionics offered by its two most distinguished professional societies, the Digital Avionics Technical Committee (DATC) of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society (AESS) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

In addition to its rich history, San Antonio offers plenty of educational, cultural and recreational opportunities for everyone to explore around the conference. Venture out to all of San Antonio's wonderful attractions including its world famous River Walk. We are positive that you will have a memorable and educational experience at the 40th DASC.

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