Airspace analysis and design by data aggregation and lean model synthesis

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Popescu, Vlad M.
Feigh, Karen M.
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Air traffic demand is growing. New methods of airspace design are required that can enable new designs, do not depend on current operations, and can also support quantifiable performance goals. The main goal of this thesis is to develop methods to model inherent safety and control cost so that these can be included as principal objectives of airspace design, in support of prior work which examines capacity. The first contribution of the thesis is to demonstrate two applications of airspace analysis and design: assessing the inherent safety and control cost of the airspace. Two results are shown, a model which estimates control cost depending on autonomy allocation and traffic volume, and the characterization of inherent safety conditions which prevent unsafe trajectories. The effects of autonomy ratio and traffic volume on control cost emerge from a Monte Carlo simulation of air traffic in an airspace sector. A maximum likelihood estimation identifies the Poisson process to be the best stochastic model for control cost. Recommendations are made to support control-cost-centered airspace design. A novel method to reliably generate collision avoidance advisories, in piloted simulations, by the widely-used Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) is used to construct unsafe trajectory clusters. Results show that the inherent safety of routes can be characterized, determined, and predicted by relatively simple convex polyhedra (albeit multi-dimensional and involving spatial and kinematic information). Results also provide direct trade-off relations between spatial and kinematic constraints on route geometries that preserve safety. Accounting for these clusters thus supports safety-centered airspace design. The second contribution of the thesis is a general methodology that generalizes unifying principles from these two demonstrations. The proposed methodology has three steps: aggregate data, synthesize lean model, and guide design. The use of lean models is a result of a natural flowdown from the airspace view to the requirements. The scope of the lean model is situated at a level of granularity that identifies the macroscopic effects of operational changes on the strategic level. The lean model technique maps low-level changes to high-level properties and provides predictive results. The use of lean models allows the mapping of design variables (route geometry, autonomy allocation) to design evaluation metrics (inherent safety, control cost).
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