08 June 2022
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is continuously assessing the operational performance of the National Airspace System (NAS), where they analyze trends in the aviation industry to help develop strategies for a more efficient air transportation system. To measure the performance of various elements of the aviation system, the FAA and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) developed nineteen key performance indicators (KPIs). This dissertation contains three research studies, each written in journal format, addressing select KPIs. These studies aim at answering questions that help understand and improve different aspects of airport operational efficiency. In the first study, we model the flight times within the terminal airspace and compare our results with the baseline methodology that the FAA uses for benchmarking. In the second study, we analyze the efficiency of deicing operations at Chicago O'Hare (ORD) by developing an algorithm that analyzes radar data. We also use a simulation model to calculate potential improvements in the deicing operations. Lastly, we present our results of a clustering analysis surrounding the response of airports to demand and capacity changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings of these studies add to literature by providing a methodology that predicts travel times within the last 100 nautical miles with greater accuracy, by providing deicing times per aircraft type, and by providing insight into factors related to airport response to shock events. These findings will be useful for air traffic management decision makers in addition to other researchers in related future studies and airport simulations. / Doctor of Philosophy / The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the transportation agency that regulates all aspects of civil aviation in the United States. The FAA is continuously analyzing trends in the aviation industry to help develop a more efficient air transportation system. They measure the performance of various elements of the aviation system. For example, there are indicators focused on the departure phase of flights measuring departure punctuality and additional time in taxi-out. On the arrivals side, there are indicators that measure the additional time spent in the last 100 nautical miles of flight. Additionally, there are indicators that measure the performance of the airport as a whole such as the peak capacity and the peak throughput. This dissertation contains three research studies, each one aims at answering questions that help understand and improve a different aspect of airport operational efficiency. The first study is focused on arrivals where we model the flight times within the last 100 nautical miles of flight. Our model incorporated factors such as wind and weather conditions to predict flight times within the last 100 nautical miles with greater accuracy than the baseline methodology that the FAA currently uses. The resulting more accurate benchmarks are important in helping decision makers, such as airport managers, understand the factors causing arrival delays. In the second study, we analyze the efficiency of deicing operations which can be a major source of departure delays during winter weather. We use radar data at Chicago O'Hare airport to analyze real life operations. We developed a simulation model that allowed us to recreate actual scenarios and run what-if scenarios to estimate potential improvements in the process. Our results showed potential savings of 25% in time spent in the deicing system if the airport changed their queueing style towards a first come first served rather than leaving it for the airlines to have their separate areas. Lastly, we present an analysis of the response of airports to demand and capacity changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this last study, we group airports by the changes in their throughput and capacity during two time periods. The first part of the study compares airports operations during 2019 to the pandemic during the "shock event" in 2020. The second part compares the changes in airports operations during 2020 with the "recovery" time period using data from 2021. This analysis showed which airports reacted similarly during the shock and recovery. It also showed the relationship between airport response and factors such as what kind of airlines use the airport, airport hub size, being located in a multi-airport city, percentage of cargo operations. The results of this study can help in understanding airport resilience based on known airport characteristics, this is particularly useful for predicting airport response to future disruptive events.
Varun S Sudarsanan (13889826)
06 October 2022
<p>Terminal airspace around an airport is the biggest bottleneck for commercial operations in the National Airspace System (NAS). In order to prognosticate the safety status of the terminal airspace, effective prediction of the airspace evolution is necessary. While there are fixed procedural structures for managing operations at an airport, the confluence of a large number of aircraft and the complex interactions between the pilots and air traffic controllers make it challenging to predict its evolution. Modeling the high-dimensional spatio-temporal interactions in the airspace given different environmental and infrastructural constraints is necessary for effective predictions of future aircraft trajectories that characterize the airspace state at any given moment. A novel deep learning architecture using Graph Neural Networks is proposed to predict trajectories of aircraft 10 minutes into the future and estimate prog?nostic metrics for the airspace. The uncertainty in the future is quantified by predicting distributions of future trajectories instead of point estimates. The framework’s viability for trajectory prediction and prognosis is demonstrated with terminal airspace data from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). </p>
Two-stage combinatorial optimization framework for air traffic flow management under constrained capacityKim, Bosung 08 June 2015 (has links)
Air traffic flow management is a critical component of air transport operations because at some point in time, often very frequently, one of more of the critical resources in the air transportation network has significantly reduced capacity, resulting in congestion and delay for airlines and other entities and individuals who use the network. Typically, these “bottlenecks” are noticed at a given airport or terminal area, but they also occur in en route airspace. The two-stage combinatorial optimization framework for air traffic flow management under constrained capacity that is presented in this thesis, represents a important step towards the full consideration of the combinatorial nature of air traffic flow management decision that is often ignored or dealt with via priority-based schemes. It also illustrates the similarities between two traffic flow management problems that heretofore were considered to be quite distinct. The runway systems at major airports are highly constrained resources. From the perspective of arrivals, unnecessary delays and emissions may occur during peak periods when one or more runways at an airport are in great demand while other runways at the same airport are operating under their capacity. The primary cause of this imbalance in runway utilization is that the traffic flow into and out of the terminal areas is asymmetric (as a result of airline scheduling practices), and arrivals are typically assigned to the runway nearest the fix through which they enter the terminal areas. From the perspective of departures, delays and emissions occur because arrivals take precedence over departures with regard to the utilization of runways (despite the absence of binding safety constraints), and because arrival trajectories often include level segments that ensure “procedural separation” from arriving traffic while planes are not allowed to climb unrestricted along the most direct path to their destination. Similar to the runway systems, the terminal radar approach control facilities (TRACON) boundary fixes are also constrained resources of the terminal airspace. Because some arrival traffic from different airports merges at an arrival fix, a queue for the terminal areas generally starts to form at the arrival fix, which are caused by delays due to heavy arriving traffic streams. The arrivals must then absorb these delays by path stretching and adjusting their speed, resulting in unplanned fuel consumption. However, these delays are often not distributed evenly. As a result, some arrival fixes experience severe delays while, similar to the runway systems, the other arrival fixes might experience no delays at all. The goal of this thesis is to develop a combined optimization approach for terminal airspace flow management that assigns a TRACON boundary fix and a runway to each flight while minimizing the required fuel burn and emissions. The approach lessens the severity of terminal capacity shortage caused by and imbalance of traffic demand by shunting flights from current positions to alternate runways. This is done by considering every possible path combination. To attempt to solve the congestion of the terminal airspace at both runways and arrival fixes, this research focuses on two sequential optimizations. The fix assignments are dealt with by considering, simultaneously, the capacity constraints of fixes and runways as well as the fuel consumption and emissions of each flight. The research also develops runway assignments with runway scheduling such that the total emissions produced in the terminal area and on the airport surface are minimized. The two-stage sequential framework is also extended to en route airspace. When en route airspace loses its capacity for any reason, e.g. severe weather condition, air traffic controllers and flight operators plan flight schedules together based on the given capacity limit, thereby maximizing en route throughput and minimizing flight operators' costs. However, the current methods have limitations due to the lacks of consideration of the combinatorial nature of air traffic flow management decision. One of the initial attempts to overcome these limitations is the Collaborative Trajectory Options Program (CTOP), which will be initiated soon by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The developed two-stage combinatorial optimization framework fits this CTOP perfectly from the flight operator's perspective. The first stage is used to find an optimal slot allocation for flights under satisfying the ration by schedule (RBS) algorithm of the FAA. To solve the formulated first stage problem efficiently, two different solution methodologies, a heuristic algorithm and a modified branch and bound algorithm, are presented. Then, flights are assigned to the resulting optimized slots in the second stage so as to minimize the flight operator's costs.
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