Optimization Models for Speed Control in Air Traffic Management
Jones, James Calvin
Lovell, David J
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In a typical air traffic control environment, the precise landing times of en route aircraft are not set until each aircraft approaches the airspace adjacent to the destination airport. In times of congestion, it is not unusual for air traffic controllers to subject arriving aircraft to various maneuvers to create an orderly flow of flights onto an arrival runway. Typical maneuvers include flying in zig-zag patterns, flying in race track shaped patterns and tromboning. These maneuvers serve to delay the arrival time of the flight while also burning additional fuel. On the other hand, if the arrival time was established much earlier, then such delay could be realized by simply having flights fly slower while still at a higher altitude, which would incur much less fuel burn than the described maneuvers. Yet despite its potential benefit, thus far little has been done to promote the management of flights using speed control in the presence of uncertainty. This dissertation presents a set of models and prescriptions designed to use the mechanism of speed control to enhance the level of coordination used by FAA managers at the tactical and pre-tactical level to better account for the underlying uncertainty at the time of planning. Its models deal with the challenge of assigning delay to aircraft approaching a single airport, well in advance of each aircraft’s entry into the terminal airspace. In the first approach, we assume control of all airborne flights at a distance of 500 nm while assuming no control over flights originating less than 500 nm from the airport. We propose a set of integer programming models designed to issue arrival times for controlled flights in the presence of the uncertainty associated with the unmanaged flights. In the second approach, we assume control over all flights by subjecting flights to a combination of air and ground delay. Both approaches show strong potential to transfer delay from the terminal to the en route phase of flight and achieve fuel savings. Building on these ideas we then formulate an approach to incorporate speed control into Ground Delay Programs. We propose enhancements for equitably rationing airport access to carriers and develop a revised framework to allow carriers to engage in Collaborative Decision Making. We present new GDP control procedures and also new flight operator GDP planning models. While the ability to achieve all the benefits we describe will require NextGen capabilities, substantial performance improvements could be obtained even with a near-term implementation.