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Fuel Efficient Air Traffic Control Maryam Kamgarpour, PhD Student Claire Tomlin, Research Adviser John Robinson, NASA Ames Research Center December 17, 2009 Outline Motivations for Improving Fuel Efficiency of Air Transportation Background on Air Traffic Control

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fuel efficient air traffic control

Fuel Efficient Air Traffic Control

Maryam Kamgarpour, PhD Student

Claire Tomlin, Research Adviser

John Robinson, NASA Ames Research Center

December 17, 2009

  • Motivations for Improving Fuel Efficiency of Air Transportation
  • Background on Air Traffic Control
  • Study on Fuel Efficient Approach Procedure
  • Conclusions and Future Work
  • Air transportation is responsible for about 25% of global warming contributions of the transportation sector in the United States

[International Council for Clean Transportation, 2009]

  • Air Traffic causes 4% of Radiative Forcing
    • This number has grown 45% since 1992
    • It is predicted to grow by 150% in 2036
improving environmental performance of air transportation
Improving Environmental Performance ofAir Transportation
  • Use of bio fuels
    • Currently algae-based fuels being tested
    • Challenges such as energy efficiency
  • Design of fuel efficient aircraft
    • Improving engine and aerodynamics design
    • Use of light weight composite material
  • Design of fuel optimal routes
improvement in aircraft design
Improvement in Aircraft Design


Source: The International Council of Clean Transportation

design of fuel efficient routes
Design of Fuel Efficient Routes
  • For each aircraft one can optimize:
    • Cruise altitude and speed
    • Routes based on wind and weather
    • Climb and descent profiles
  • However, aircraft must operate within the constraints of the air traffic structure
air traffic highways in space
Air Traffic - Highways in Space

Figure 1 – High-altitude jetways

air traffic control
Air Traffic Control

Figure 2a - Air Traffic Control Centers in the United States

Figure 2b - Northern California Terminal Radar Approach Control

continuous descent approach cda
Continuous Descent Approach (CDA)

Continuous Descent (Optimized Profile) Approach is assumed to reduce fuel burn and noise

Figure 3b - Today’s typical descent path

Figure 3a - Continuous Descent Approach path

fuel consumption rate
Fuel Consumption Rate

In Cruise Mode, fuel consumption rate decreases with increasing altitude

Figure 4 - Fuel rate in kg/nmi for B737

standard arrival approach
Standard Arrival Approach

Heterogeneous arrivals must be separated enough to land safely

Altitude and speed are chosen based on a common subset of aircraft

standard arrival routes
Standard Arrival Routes





Figure 5 - MOD3 STAR for SFO Airport

analyzing benefits of continuous descent approach cda
Analyzing Benefits of Continuous Descent Approach (CDA)

Analysis Approach

1 Take current aircraft arrival trajectories

2 Move the constant altitude (Level) section to a high altitude

Objective: Study fuel benefits of implementing CDA in the current airspace structure

results on airport savings
Results on Airport Savings

Scope of the Study

5 days of data for ATL, SFO, LAX airports

4 days of data for DFW, 1 day of data for JFK

constant altitude segments of a standard arrival route
Constant Altitude Segments of a Standard Arrival Route

Figure 6 – Constant Altitude Segments for SFO MOD3 Arrival

constant altitude segments
Constant Altitude Segments

Figure 7 – Atlanta ATL airport constant altitude level sections from four arrival posts

Path extensions for separation result in constant altitude segments of arrival flight

analysis of results
Analysis of Results

Figure 8 - Fuel rate kg/min for B737

Implementing time-separation at higher altitudes would not improve fuel efficiency

conclusions and future work
Conclusions and Future Work
  • Continuous Descent Approach in the current airspace restrictions will result on average savings of 50 kg fuel per flight
  • Current descent approaches are based on air traffic needs for maintaining separation
  • There is a trade-off between separation of aircraft and fuel savings that need to be analyzed
current research and real world
Current Research and Real-World
  • Los Angeles LAX
  • Louisville
  • London Heathrow Airport
atlanta atl airport arrivals
Atlanta ATL Airport Arrivals

Fuel Savings based on the Standard Arrival Route





Arrivals from the East result in more fuel savings when arriving on the Westerly runways

fuel analysis based on routes and runways
Fuel Analysis Based on Routes and Runways





Arrival towards East

Arrival towards West