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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

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.

Operations research in air transportation

Over 95% of the total


Route charges revenues

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)


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?

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, …


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: