Observation and Analysis of Departure Operations at Boston Logan International Airport
Author(s)Idris, Husni; Hansman, R. John
The Departure Planner (DP) is a concept for a decision-aiding tool that is aimed at improving the departure operations performance at major congested airports. In order to support the development of the DP tool, the flow constraints and their causalities in the departure process - primarily responsible for generating inefficiencies and delays- need to be identified. This thesis is an effort to identify such flow constraints and gain a deep understanding of the underlying dynamics of the departure process based on field observations and data analysis at Boston Logan International Airport. It was observed that the departure process is a complex interactive queuing system, where aircraft queues form as a manifestation of the flow constraints. While departure delays were observed in all airport components (runways, taxiways, ramps and gates), it was concluded that the flow constraints manifest mainly at the runway system, which exhibits the largest delays and queues. Major delays and inefficiencies were also observed due to downstream flow constraints, which propagate back and block the departure flow from the airport. It was also observed that the airport system is a highly controlled system as the air traffic controllers manage the flow constraints. The air traffic controllers were, therefore, identified as another flow constraint due to their workload and their main strategies in managing the flow constraints were observed. Based on the observations, a core departure process was identified consisting of two main elements: a queuing element generated by the flow constraints and a control element representing the air traffic controller actions. This core process was abstracted using a controlled queuing framework, where the air traffic controller actions are represented by blocking the flow of aircraft in order to maintain safe operation of the airport resources according to the ATC rules and procedures and regulate the outbound flow to constrained downstream resources. The controlled queuing framework was used to analyze the departure process highlighting the queuing dynamics and the control behavior for different flow constraint examples. In conclusion, a number of implications for the Departure Planner and other improved methods for departure operations are inferred from the observations and analysis.
Departure Planner, decision-aiding, flow constraints, air transportation