Operations research in air transportation
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Operations Research in Air Transportation. Air Transportation System. Infrastructure Airports ATM (Air Traffic Management) ATFM (AT Flow Management) ATC (AT Control) Superstructure Commercial Flights Private Flights Military Flights.

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Operations Research in Air Transportation

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Operations research in air transportation

Operations Researchin Air Transportation

Air transportation system

Air Transportation System

  • Infrastructure

    • Airports

    • ATM (Air Traffic Management)

      • ATFM (AT Flow Management)

      • ATC (AT Control)

  • Superstructure

    • Commercial Flights

    • Private Flights

    • Military Flights

Eurocontrol atfm area and an example of sectorization

Eurocontrol ATFM area and an example of Sectorization

Atm at management

ATM (AT Management)

Motivation for improvement

  • New technologies

    • CNS (Communications Navigation Surveillance)

    • Datalink

    • Better weather forecasting

  • New economic framework

    • Deregulation

    • Liberalization

    • Competition

Operations research in air transportation

Aviation Authorities (ICAO, FAA, Eurocontrol, National Aviation Authorities)

are adopting new ATM concepts:

  • FANS (Future Air Navigation System)

  • Free Flight

  • CDM (Collaborative Decision Making)

    and tools, for example:



  • CTAS



  • Primary objective of ATM system

  • Same separation rules in the last 15 years (except for vertical separation …)

  • Lack of quantitative models

  • Need for a greater flexibility

  • Implementation of new concepts requires careful examination (example: implications of Free Flight)

Atfm at flow management

ATFM (AT Flow Management)

  • Providers

    • FAA

    • Eurocontrol CFMU (Central Flow Management Unit)

  • ATM is continuously evolving

    • Excellent information, elaboration and visualization capabilities

    • Lack of satisfactory decision support systems

    • Need for real time tools able to handle uncertainties (e.g., weather) and dynamically changing reality.

Example of gui

Example of GUI

Operations research in air transportation

Over 95% of the total


Route charges revenues

Operations research in air transportation

Forecasted no. of IFR flights in CFMU area

Operations research in air transportation


Scheduled flights

Charter flights

General Aviation

Military flights

State flights

System Capacity

Airports (number of take-off/landings)


Sectors (no. of flights entering the sector or no. of flights in the sector)


Operations research in air transportation


Operations research in air transportation


First solution ground holding

First solution: Ground Holding

  • Ground holding safer than airborne holding

  • Ground holding cheaper than airborne holding

    N.B.: Flight shift in time

Second solution rerouting

Second solution: Rerouting

  • It is sometimes directly imposed by the Aviation Authority (CFMU)

  • Could be in-directly imposed: air traffic demand management

    N.B.: flight shift in space

Ground holding

Ground Holding

  • Ground holding better than airborne delay

  • History: 1981 USA AT controllers strike

  • Dimensions (No. of daily flights):

    • 60,000 domestic flights in USA

    • 30,000 flights in Eurocontrol zone

Operations research in air transportation

Ground Holding Problem


Padova University

Gh model meaning

GH model(meaning)

MIN Total Cost of (ground + airborne delays)

subject to:

  • Capacity constraints

  • Assignment constraints

  • Coupling constraints

  • Integrality constraints

Gh model type and dimensions

GH model(type and dimensions)

  • The resulting model is a MIP (Mixed Integer Programming) problem with a few hundred thousands boolean variables and constraints

  • The problem is NP-hard (i.e., difficult)

  • Yet, the instances using real data were easy to solve



A rerouting is sometimes imposed by CFMU.

Rerouting implies different route charges!

€ € €

€ €

Eurocontrol route charge formula

EUROCONTROLroute charge formula


where for each State i the charge is given by:

Distance traveled in State i

Unit rate in State i

Critics to e urocontrol formula

Critics to EUROCONTROL formula:

Should better reflect actual ATC costs:

  • Use time rather than distance?

  • Question the importance of weight (augment the exponent from 0.5 to 0.87 ?)

  • Efficiency in providing ATC services should be taken into account

Air navigation and airport user charges

Air Navigation and Airport User Charges

  • Great interest internationally

  • Background of rising infrastructure costs and security costs at a time of global industry crisis

  • Multiple objectives for charging systems:

    • Cover costs of service providers

    • Cost-related charging formulae

    • Provide incentives to improve efficiency/performance of service providers

    • Inform prioritization of investments

    • Promote operational efficiency (e.g., reduce congestion)

    • Transparency and user participation

    • etc.

Ircs project trieste padova

IRCSproject(Trieste + Padova)

Innovative Route Charging Schemes

For more information see:


Ircs specific issues partial list

IRCS Specific Issues (partial list)

  • Alternative charging formulae

    • Common unit rate

    • Two-part charge, etc.

  • Impacts of alternative charging systems

  • Charge according to flight plan

  • Tax on tickets

  • Containment of service provider costs

  • Other?

General aim of ircs project

General aim of IRCS project

the final purpose of the Innovative Route Charging Schemes project is:

  • to study the impact of changes in en-route charges

  • with respect to the demand and supply sides of ATM

  • in a view to improve the overall efficiency of the system

Operations research in air transportation

Market based

Flow Demand Management

and Rerouting

Odoni, Fan, … (MIT)

Andreatta, Lulli (Padova)

Optimal congestion fee

Optimal congestion fee

A congestion fee on a user is optimal when it is equal to the external costs that the user imposes on the other users.

For a M/G/1 queue:

Marginal Internal External

cost cost cost



Idea under investigation

Idea under investigation

  • Without congestion fee, BIG aircraft are penalized

  • With “optimal” congestion fee, SMALL aircraft are penalized

    Why not consider different categories and compute the “external” cost imposed within each category?

Operations research in air transportation


Airport modeling

Airport modeling

  • Landside (Passenger terminal)

  • Baggage handling

  • Apron stand allocation

  • Arrival aircraft sequencing

Airport landside modeling

Airport landside modeling

European sponsored projects:

  • IV UE framework program: “TAPE”

  • V UE framework program: “OPAL”

  • VI UE framework program: “SPADE”

    Padova University

    Rome “La Sapienza” University

    Athens AUEB

    Toulouse ONERA

    Delft University

Slam implementation

Input file

Output file

Output file

Output file


SLAM Implementation

  • Program: ANSI C, LEX and YACC

  • Graphic User Interface: JAVA

  • Run under UNIX and WINDOWS

Apron stand allocation

Apron stand allocation

Romanin-Jacur, Filippi

Arrival aircraft sequencing

Arrival aircraft sequencing

Bianco, Rinaldi, Dell’Olmo, Lulli, …

Operations research in air transportation




Deregulation and Liberalization drive a higher competition

Need to reduce costs

Need to enhance revenues

Airlines costs

Airlines costs

  • The Passenger Mix Model

  • The Fleet Assignment Problem

  • The Crew Pairing Problem, the Aircraft Routing Problem, and the Integrated Crew Pairing-Aircraft Routing Problem

  • The Schedule Design Problem

  • Integrated Models

Airlines revenues

Airlines revenues

  • Revenue management

  • Seat pricing

  • Seat categorization

  • Integration

Optimization methods

Optimization Methods

  • Integer Linear Programming

  • Greedy algorithms

  • Genetic algorithms

  • Tabu search

  • Bi-linear programming models

Where in the usa

Where in the USA ?


    • MIT

    • Virginia TECH

    • U. of Maryland

    • UC Berkeley

    • GMU

    • FAA

Where in italy

Where in Italy

  • Padova

    • Andreatta, Brunetta, Lulli, Romanin-Jacur, …

  • Rome

    • Dell’Olmo, Bianco, …

  • Trieste

    • Ukovich, Castelli, Pesenti, …

  • Siena

    • Marti

Operations research in air transportation

Thank You

Padova References:


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