A Performance-based Framework for Guiding Enroute Air Traffic Control Sector Design

Julian R Archer, Purdue University


Sectors are small regions of airspace through which aircraft fly and air traffic controllers are required to manage while considering notions like safety, efficiency, and effectiveness. Interestingly, we do not know how to design, i.e. make considerations surrounding airspace, air traffic, controller, and technology factors, such that sectors generate specific levels of performance. Rather, sectors have always been designed in an artistic fashion where the focus is on human operator workload, which is fairly subjective. This research leverages the fact that many aspects of performance are objective and so are many aspects of design. A framework is proposed such that the sector design problem is abstracted in a generalizable way where performance is the focus. The framework consists of a series of natural questions which aim to set up a decision variable representative of all aspects of underlying performance we choose to care about. The decision variable is a normalized-weighted-summed-modeled-performance-loss function. A specific instance of the performance-based sector design problem was successfully demonstrated in the context of the framework. Results showed that the derived composite performance score was useful for inferring design heuristics and optimally selecting among competing design configurations. Simulation and modeling was key to this work.




Landry, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Industrial engineering

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