Improvements to the efficiency of the U.S. air transportation system are constantly challenged by the increasing demand for air travel. One of the main constraints for efficiency is airport capacity. Insufficient capacity results in delays for airborne and airport surface traffic. Recent advancements in technologies such as Traffic Flow Management have, in some instances, improved the timeliness of arrivals. However, in certain circumstances, this prioritization of inbound aircraft may come at the expense of delayed departures. The Federal Aviation Administration's Aviation System Performance Metrics (ASPM) database estimates annual taxi-out delays, which is the difference between actual and unimpeded taxi-out times, at major U.S. airports to exceed 32 million minutes. These inefficiencies on the airport surface are generally caused by a large number of aircraft occupying a limited region, which is referred to as surface congestion.
This website details the systems engineering design and development of a tool to simulate aircraft surface operations and congestion at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). Multiple data sources were used to develop an aircraft kinematics model, simulation input models, and a wireframe network model representing ATL. The simulation tool was tuned such that outputs closely matched observed characteristics of normal, uncongested scenarios. A moderately complex graphical user interface was developed in conformance with international avionics standards. Analysis of the simulation tool indicates that it is an accurate representation of the upper half of ATL. The airport surface simulation is modular, scalable to include additional airport objects and features, and adaptable to multiple airports.
Dr. Lance Sherry, Executive Director of the Center for Air Transportation Systems Research (CATSR).
The research center based in George Mason University has a mission to foster excellence in education and research specializing in Air Transportation System Engineering. CATSR's contributions to the field include transportation network-of-network simulations, optimization, and analysis. It also includes complex adaptive systems simulation and analysis, aviation's impact on the environment, and many other aviation problems.