An investigation of very large aircraft impacts on the air transportation system with motivations for future aircraft design
The operations of Very Large Aircraft (VLA) are expected to increase in response to growing air transportation demand and greater emphasis on efficient use of transportation resources. The increased payload and range capabilities of VLA can satisfy demand on long range routes that normally require several smaller aircraft. However, VLA potentially impact the air transportation system through increased separation requirements, airport infrastructure limitations, and increased turn-around times. It is not yet clear if the benefits of using VLA prevail over the operational encumbrances inherent to their size and weight. A research need exists to assess the impacts of VLA on aircraft, airport, and network level metrics from a system of systems perspective. The goal of this research effort is to introduce a method for assessing vehicle concepts during the design process by exploiting agent based simulation techniques. Several VLA designs, including a Boeing 747-8, Blended Wing Body concept, and three different class configurations of an Airbus A380, were modeled and integrated into current and future demand sets on appropriate routes. Network operations, including flights of these new aircraft concepts, were simulated in the Airspace Concept Evaluation System (ACES v5). Increased functionality was implemented in ACES to evaluate the Super Heavy category of aircraft in a detailed terminal airspace and airport model, which included detailed fixes, runway geometry, and runway interactions. Results from the ACES agent based simulation were used to assess vehicle performance metrics which span the hierarchical levels and dimensions of the considered system of systems. The relationships between vehicle design characteristics and network performance were uncovered and generalized to formulate aircraft design objectives and constraints focused at maximizing the utilization of available airport and airspace resources. Results from this research endeavor reveal that the operation of VLA may supplement NextGen initiatives and technological improvements to help mitigate congestion at the Nation’s largest airports. Additionally, a more lucid understanding of the impacts that individual aircraft can have on the air transportation system may lead to more relevant aircraft designs which better meet the needs of the system.^
Daniel A. DeLaurentis, Purdue University.