Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics


Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Inseok Hwang

Committee Chair

Inseok Hwang

Committee Member 1

Martin Corless

Committee Member 2

Dengfeng Sun


The National Airspace System (NAS) is the vast network of systems enabling safe and efficient air travel in the United States. It consists of a set of static sectors, each controlled by one or more air traffic controllers. Air traffic control is tasked with ensuring that all flights can depart and arrive on time and in a safe and efficient matter. However, skyrocketing demand will only increase the stress on an already inefficient system, causing massive delays. The current, static configuration of the NAS cannot possibly handle the future demand on the system safely and efficiently, especially since it is projected to triple by 2025. To overcome these issues, the Next Generation of Air Transportation System (NextGen) is being enacted to increase the flexibility of the NAS. A major objective of NextGen is to implement Adaptable Dynamic Airspace Configuration (ADAC) which will dynamically allocate the sectors to best fit the traffic in the area. Dynamically allocating sectors will allow resources such as controllers to be better distributed to meet traffic demands. Currently, most DAC research has involved the en route airspace. This leaves the terminal airspace, which accounts for a large amount of the overall NAS complexity, in need of work. Using a combination of methods used in en route sectorization, this thesis has developed an algorithm for the dynamic allocation of sectors in the terminal airspace. This algorithm will be evaluated using metrics common in the evaluation of dynamic density, which is adapted for the unique challenges of the terminal airspace, and used to measure workload on air traffic controllers. These metrics give a better view of the controller workload than the number of aircraft alone. By comparing the test results with sectors currently used in the NAS using real traffic data, the algorithm


generated sectors can be quantitatively evaluated for improvement of the current sectorizations. This will be accomplished by testing the performance of the algorithm generated sectors to the current sectors for a variety of configurations and scenarios, and comparing these results to those of the current sectors. The effect of dynamic airspace configurations will then be tested by observing the effects of update rate on the algorithm generated sector results. Finally, the algorithm will be used with simulated data, whose evaluation would show the ability of the sector design algorithm to meet the objectives of the NextGen system. Upon validation, the algorithm may be successfully incorporated into a larger Terminal Flow Algorithm, developed by our partners at Mosaic ATM, as the final step in the TDAC process.