Quantifying the impacts of vehicle technologies and operational improvements on air transportation system performance

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Hassan, Mohammed
Mavris, Dimitri N.
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Over the past decades, passenger demand for air transportation has grown steadily. Aviation forecasts predict a continued growth into the future at possibly higher rates. The consequent rise in number of flights would undoubtedly lead to an increase in fuel consumption, emissions, and airport noise levels; environmental effects that regulatory bodies have been striving to limit. Among the solutions considered by the aviation industry to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts of demand growth are vehicle technologies and operational improvements. The former aims to enhance aircraft vehicle-level performance, while the latter seeks both vehicle-level and system-level enhancements. The primary research objective of this thesis is to provide a methodological framework that incorporates both vehicle technologies and operational improvements in order to evaluate their projected impacts on air transportation system performance. Both technological and operational solutions have been investigated in the past; however, independently. The existing inter-dependencies between both solutions have been largely considered insignificant and thus, disregarded. Consequently, to compute the total impact on system performance resulting from implementing both solutions, current assessments analyze them independently and simply sum the individual contributions. This thesis focuses on the inter-dependencies between vehicle technologies and operational improvements and argues that: 1) they should not be generally disregarded in performance evaluations of the aviation system, and 2) they can be exploited to further enhance system performance. Those two arguments are posed as a single hypothesis, which is tested using the methodological framework. There are two main contributions for this thesis. First, the development of an all- encompassing capability that evaluates system-level performance at reasonable accuracy and manageable uncertainty. Stakeholders and policy makers are better informed about the potential system-level impacts of various technological and operational solutions. As a consequence, future investment and resource allocation decisions could be impacted. The second major contribution of this thesis is testing the commonly accepted assumption regarding the independence of technologies and operations. The thesis indeed argues that independence should not be generally assumed. Therefore, technologies and operations need to be considered simultaneously in order to account for their inter-dependencies.
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