Dynamic airspace configuration algorithms for next generation air transportation system

Jian Wei, Purdue University


The National Airspace System (NAS) is under great pressure to safely and efficiently handle the record-high air traffic volume nowadays, and will face even greater challenge to keep pace with the steady increase of future air travel demand, since the air travel demand is projected to increase to two to three times the current level by 2025. The inefficiency of traffic flow management initiatives causes severe airspace congestion and frequent flight delays, which cost billions of economic losses every year. To address the increasingly severe airspace congestion and delays, the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is proposed to transform the current static and rigid radar based system to a dynamic and flexible satellite based system. New operational concepts such as Dynamic Airspace Configuration (DAC) have been under development to allow more flexibility required to mitigate the demand-capacity imbalances in order to increase the throughput of the entire NAS. In this dissertation, we address the DAC problem in the en route and terminal airspace under the framework of NextGen. We develop a series of algorithms to facilitate the implementation of innovative concepts relevant with DAC in both the en route and terminal airspace. We also develop a performance evaluation framework for comprehensive benefit analyses on different aspects of future sector design algorithms. First, we complete a graph based sectorization algorithm for DAC in the en route airspace, which models the underlying air route network with a weighted graph, converts the sectorization problem into the graph partition problem, partitions the weighted graph with an iterative spectral bipartition method, and constructs the sectors from the partitioned graph. The algorithm uses a graph model to accurately capture the complex traffic patterns of the real flights, and generates sectors with high efficiency while evenly distributing the workload among the generated sectors. We further improve the robustness and efficiency of the graph based DAC algorithm by incorporating the Multilevel Graph Partitioning (MGP) method into the graph model, and develop a MGP based sectorization algorithm for DAC in the en route airspace. In a comprehensive benefit analysis, the performance of the proposed algorithms are tested in numerical simulations with Enhanced Traffic Management System (ETMS) data. Simulation results demonstrate that the algorithmically generated sectorizations outperform the current sectorizations in different sectors for different time periods. Secondly, based on our experience with DAC in the en route airspace, we further study the sectorization problem for DAC in the terminal airspace. The differences between the en route and terminal airspace are identified, and their influence on the terminal sectorization is analyzed. After adjusting the graph model to better capture the unique characteristics of the terminal airspace and the requirements of terminal sectorization, we develop a graph based geometric sectorization algorithm for DAC in the terminal airspace. Moreover, the graph based model is combined with the region based sector design method to better handle the complicated geometric and operational constraints in the terminal sectorization problem. In the benefit analysis, we identify the contributing factors to terminal controller workload, define evaluation metrics, and develop a bebefit analysis framework for terminal sectorization evaluation. With the evaluation framework developed, we demonstrate the improvements on the current sectorizations with real traffic data collected from several major international airports in the U.S., and conduct a detailed analysis on the potential benefits of dynamic reconfiguration in the terminal airspace. Finally, in addition to the research on the macroscopic behavior of a large number of aircraft, we also study the dynamical behavior of individual aircraft from the perspective of traffic flow management. We formulate the mode-confusion problem as hybrid estimation problem, and develop a state estimation algorithm for the linear hybrid system with continuous-state-dependent transitions based on sparse observations. We also develop an estimated time of arrival prediction algorithm based on the state-dependent transition hybrid estimation algorithm, whose performance is demonstrated with simulations on the landing procedure following the Continuous Descend Approach (CDA) profile.




Hwang, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Aerospace engineering

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