Formulation of a Method to Assess Technologies for the Improvement of Airport Capacity

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Mavris, Dimitri N.
Garcia, Elena
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Commercial air transportation growth and airline deregulation in recent years have resulte traffic volume beyond the capacity of existing airports and air traffic control. This excess traffic often results in delays and the subsequent revenue loss for airline operators. Therefore, a number of initiatives to improve airport capacity and throughput have been proposed. These initiatives include a wide variety of technologies ranging from runway independent vehicles to vortex sensing systems. However, in order to assess the impact of these technologies on commercial air traffic one must move beyond the vehicle to a system-of-systems point of view. The technologies proposed for the improvement of airport capacity require a modeling and simulation environment that can account for an airlines flight network as well as a fleet composed of various aircraft types. The Aviation Systems Analysis Capability (ASAC) model, developed by the Logistics Management Institute under a NASA contract, may be viewed as the foundation for such an environment. However, a complete technology evaluation environment must not stop at a fleet analysis, other aspects of technology infusion must also be addressed. First, the impact of these technologies on the aircraft performance must be assessed. Second, the ability to calculate the cost of implementing the technologies, both within the aircraft cockpit and in ground facilities, must be developed. In addition, the effect of these technologies, and the resulting timesavings, on the airlines indirect cost will be of utmost interest. Finally, the impact on the safety of the flight environment deserves careful analysis. This paper identifies the different models that may be used for a comprehensive, systematic evaluation of aircraft, fleet, safety and cost, as well as the issues involved in their integration. Furthermore, an outline of a probabilistic technology evaluation methodology is presented as a potential approach to the problem at hand once a complete model of the airspace system has been developed. The goal of this methodology, currently under development, is to analyze an entire aircraft fleet from a probabilistic point of view, taking into account safety and cost issues, as well as allowing for the infusion of new technologies. This will ultimately result in a dynamic what-if environment to aid decision-makers, as well as a means to quantify the risk and uncertainty associated with the application of new technologies including technology readiness levels, and other factors beyond the designers control.
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