Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Karen Marais

Committee Member 1

Steven Landry

Committee Member 2

Dengfeng Sun


Optimizing usage of unimpeded taxiways is a near-term operational change to mitigate emission impact on aviation and increase efficiency at airports. An unimpeded taxiway is a path for an aircraft to taxi around an active runway. Unimpeded taxiways provide benefits such as increased departure throughput, increased safety, reduced surface congestion, more efficient taxi-in procedures, and thereby also yield environmental benefits. The goals of this work are to investigate the use of current taxiways, examine surface performance and fuel burn trade-offs, and to develop a decision-support model based on potential fuel savings of unimpeded taxiways. This study analyzes unimpeded taxiway use at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL), Dallas/Fort-Worth International Airport (DFW), and Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) using ASDE-X data from 10 September 2012 to 28 February 2013. The trends and patterns of aircraft taxi routes show the unimpeded taxiway is used the most during peak arrival and peak departure hours. This study provides decision-makers at the operations level a practical guidance tool with the necessary information to effectively use unimpeded taxiways and conventional taxiways from an environmental perspective. Decision rules were developed to maximize fuel savings. The decision scenario analysis concluded that the most promising decision rule at ATL, DFW, and DTW to yield the most environmental benefit is based on multiple factors. The multi-factor decision rule based on terminal destination, arrival time, and aircraft type resulted in an average aircraft fuel savings of 8.1% to 20.4%.