Publications

Refine Results

(Filters Applied) Clear All

En route sector capacity model final report

Author:
Published in:
MIT Lincoln Laboratory Report ATC-426

Summary

Accurate predictions of en route sector capacity are vital when analyzing the benefits of proposed new air traffic management decision-support tools or new airspace designs. Controller workload is the main determinant of sector capacity. This report describes a new workload-based capacity model that improves upon the Federal Aviation Administration's current Monitor Alert capacity model. Analysts often use Monitor Alert sector capacities in evaluating the benefits of decision-support aids or airspace designs. However, Monitor Alert, which was designed to warn controllers of possible sector overload, sets sector capacity limits based solely on handoff workload and fixed procedural constraints. It ignores the effects of conflict workload and recurring workload (from activities such as monitoring, vectoring, spacing, and metering). Each workload type varies differently as traffic counts and airspace designs are changed. When used for benefits analysis, Monitor Alert's concentration on a single workload type can lead to erroneous conclusions. The new model considers all three workload types. We determine the relative contribution of the three workload types by fitting the model to the upper frontiers that appear in peak daily sector traffic counts from today's system. When we fit the Monitor Alert model to these same peak traffic counts, it can only explain the observed frontiers by hypothesizing large handoff workload. Large handoff workload would imply that decision-support aids should focus on handoff tasks. The new model fits the traffic data with less error, and shows that recurring tasks create significantly more workload in all sectors than do handoff tasks. The new model also shows that conflict workload dominates in very small sectors. These findings suggest that it is more beneficial to develop decision-support aids for recurring tasks and conflict tasks than for handoff tasks.
READ LESS

Summary

Accurate predictions of en route sector capacity are vital when analyzing the benefits of proposed new air traffic management decision-support tools or new airspace designs. Controller workload is the main determinant of sector capacity. This report describes a new workload-based capacity model that improves upon the Federal Aviation Administration's current...

READ MORE

En route sector capacity model final report(1.98 MB)

Author:
Published in:
Project Report ATC-426, MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Summary

Accurate predictions of en route sector capacity are vital when analyzing the benefits of proposed new air traffic management decision-support tools or new airspace designs. Controller workload is the main determinant of sector capacity. This report describes a new workload-based capacity model that improves upon the Federal Aviation Administration’s current Monitor Alert capacity model.
READ LESS

Summary

Accurate predictions of en route sector capacity are vital when analyzing the benefits of proposed new air traffic management decision-support tools or new airspace designs. Controller workload is the main determinant of sector capacity. This report describes a new workload-based capacity model that improves upon the Federal Aviation Administration’s current...

READ MORE

Sector workload model for benefits analysis and convective weather capacity prediction

Published in:
10th USA/Europe Air Traffic Management Research and Development Sem., ATM 2013, 10-13 June 2013.

Summary

En route sector capacity is determined mainly by controller workload. The operational capacity model used by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provides traffic alert thresholds based entirely on hand-off workload. Its estimates are accurate for most sectors. However, it tends to over-estimate capacity in both small and large sectors because it does not account for conflicts and recurring tasks. Because of those omissions it cannot be used for accurate benefits analysis of workload-reduction initiatives, nor can it be extended to estimate capacity when hazardous weather increases the intensity of all workload types. We have previously reported on an improved model that accounts for all workload types and can be extended to handle hazardous weather. In this paper we present the results of a recent regression of that model using an extensive database of peak traffic counts for all United States en route sectors. The resulting fit quality confirms the workload basis of en route capacity. Because the model has excess degrees of freedom, the regression process returns multiple parameter combinations with nearly identical sector capacities. We analyze the impact of this ambiguity when using the model to quantify the benefits of workload reduction proposals. We also describe recent modifications to the weather-impacted version of the model to provide a more stable normalized capacity measure. We conclude with an illustration of its potential application to operational sector capacity forecasts in hazardous weather.
READ LESS

Summary

En route sector capacity is determined mainly by controller workload. The operational capacity model used by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provides traffic alert thresholds based entirely on hand-off workload. Its estimates are accurate for most sectors. However, it tends to over-estimate capacity in both small and large sectors because...

READ MORE

Analytical workload model for estimating en route sector capacity in convective weather

Published in:
9th USA/Europe Air Traffic Management Research and Development Sem., ATM 2011, 14-17 June 2011.

Summary

We have extended an analytical workload model for estimating en route sector capacity to include the impact of convective weather. We use historical weather avoidance data to characterize weather blockage, which affects the sector workload in three ways: (1) Increase in the conflict resolution task rate via reduction in available airspace, (2) increase in the recurring task load through the rerouting of aircraft around weather, and (3) increase in the inter-sector coordination rate via reduction in the mean sector transit time. Application of the extended model to observed and forecast data shows promise for future use in network flow models.
READ LESS

Summary

We have extended an analytical workload model for estimating en route sector capacity to include the impact of convective weather. We use historical weather avoidance data to characterize weather blockage, which affects the sector workload in three ways: (1) Increase in the conflict resolution task rate via reduction in available...

READ MORE

Applications of a macroscopic model for en route sector capacity

Published in:
AIAA Guidance, Navigation and Control Conf. and Exhibit, 18-21 August 2008.

Summary

Airspace capacity estimates are important both for airspace design and for operational air traffic management. Considerable effort has gone into understanding the complexity factors that reduce sector capacity by increasing controller workload. Yet no analytical means is available for accurately estimating the maximum capacity of an en route sector. The Monitor Alert Parameter (MAP) values that determine the operational traffic limit of en route sectors in the United States account only for workload from inter-sector coordination tasks. We propose a more complete sector capacity model that also accounts for workload from conflict avoidance and recurring tasks. We use mean closing speeds and airspace separation standards to estimate aircraft conflict rates. We estimate the mean controller service times for all three task types by fitting the model against observed peak traffic counts for hundreds of en route airspace volumes in the Northeastern United States. This macroscopic approach provides numerical capacity predictions that closely bound peak observed traffic densities for those airspace volumes. This paper reviews recent efforts to improve the accuracy of the bound by replacing certain global parameters with measured data from individual sectors. It also compares the model capacity with MAP values for sectors in the New York Center. It concludes by illustrating the use of the model to predict the capacity benefits of proposed technological and operational improvements to the air traffic management system.
READ LESS

Summary

Airspace capacity estimates are important both for airspace design and for operational air traffic management. Considerable effort has gone into understanding the complexity factors that reduce sector capacity by increasing controller workload. Yet no analytical means is available for accurately estimating the maximum capacity of an en route sector. The...

READ MORE

Macroscopic workload model for estimating en route sector capacity

Published in:
USA/Europe ATM Seminar, 2-5 July 2007.

Summary

Under ideal weather conditions, each en route sector in an air traffic management (ATM) system has a certain maximum operational traffic density that its controller team can safely handle with nominal traffic flow. We call this the design capacity of the sector. Bad weather and altered flow often reduce sector capacity by increasing controller workload. We refer to sector capacity that is reduced by such conditions as dynamic capacity. When operational conditions cause workload to exceed the capability of a sector's controllers, air traffic managers can respond either by reducing demand or by increasing design capacity. Reducing demand can increase aircraft operating costs and impose delays. Increasing design capacity is usually accomplished by assigning more control resources to the airspace. This increases the cost of ATM. To ensure full utilization of the dynamic capacity and efficient use of the workforce, it is important to accurately characterize the capacity of each sector. Airspace designers often estimate sector capacity using microscopic workload simulations that model each task imposed by each aircraft. However, the complexities of those detailed models limit their real-time operational use, particularly in situations in which sector volumes or flow directions must adapt to changing conditions. To represent design capacity operationally in the United States, traffic flow managers define an acceptable peak traffic count for each sector based on practical experience. These subjective thresholds-while usable in decision-making-do not always reflect the complexity and geometry of the sectors, nor the direction of the traffic flow. We have developed a general macroscopic workload model to quantify the workload impact of traffic density, sector geometry, flow direction, and air-to-air conflict rates. This model provides an objective basis for estimating design capacity. Unlike simulation models, this analytical approach easily extrapolates to new conditions and allows parameter validation by fitting to observed sector traffic counts. The model quantifies coordination and conflict workload as well as observed relationships between sector volume and controller efficiency. The model can support real-time prediction of changes in design capacity when traffic is diverted from nominal routes. It can be used to estimate residual airspace capacity when weather partially blocks a sector. Its ability to identify dominant manual workload factors can also help define the benefits and effectiveness of alternative concepts for automating labor-intensive tasks.
READ LESS

Summary

Under ideal weather conditions, each en route sector in an air traffic management (ATM) system has a certain maximum operational traffic density that its controller team can safely handle with nominal traffic flow. We call this the design capacity of the sector. Bad weather and altered flow often reduce sector...

READ MORE

Safety analysis for advanced separatation concepts

Published in:
Air Traffic Control Q., Vol. 14, No. 1, 2006, pp. 5-24.

Summary

Advanced separation assurance concepts involving higher degrees of automation must meet the challenge of maintaining safety in the presence of inevitable subsystem faults, including the complete failure of the supporting automation infrastructure. This paper examines the types of design features and safeguards that might be used to preserve safety in a highly automated environment. The Advanced Airspace Concept (AAC) being developed by NASA is used as the basis for a fault-tree analysis. Multiple layers of protection, with carefully specified fault management strategies, appear to be important to achieving the desired level of safety.
READ LESS

Summary

Advanced separation assurance concepts involving higher degrees of automation must meet the challenge of maintaining safety in the presence of inevitable subsystem faults, including the complete failure of the supporting automation infrastructure. This paper examines the types of design features and safeguards that might be used to preserve safety in...

READ MORE

Improving air traffic management during thunderstorms

Published in:
24th AIAA/IEEE Digital Avionics Systems Conf., 30 October - 3 November 2005, pp. 3.D.2-1 - 3.D.2-13.

Summary

This paper discusses inter-related studies and development activities that address the significant challenges of implementing Air Traffic Management initiatives in airspace impacted by thunderstorms. We briefly describe current thrusts that will improve the quality and precision of thunderstorm forecasts, work in progress to convert these forecasts into estimates of future airspace capacity, and an initiative to develop a robust ATM optimization model based on future capacity estimates with associated uncertainty bounds. We conclude with a discussion of the thunderstorm ATM problem in the context of future advanced airspace management concepts.
READ LESS

Summary

This paper discusses inter-related studies and development activities that address the significant challenges of implementing Air Traffic Management initiatives in airspace impacted by thunderstorms. We briefly describe current thrusts that will improve the quality and precision of thunderstorm forecasts, work in progress to convert these forecasts into estimates of future...

READ MORE

Safety analysis for advanced separation concepts

Published in:
USA/Europe Air Traffic Management Seminar, 27-30 June 2005.

Summary

Aviation planners have called for increasing the capacity of the air transportation system by factors of two or three over the next 20 years. The inherent spatial capacity of en route airspace appears able to accommodate such traffic densities. But controller workload presents a formidable obstacle to achieving such goals. New approaches to providing separation assurance are being investigated to overcome workload limitations and allow airspace capacity to be fully utilized. One approach is to employ computer automation as the basis for separation-assurance task. This would permit traffic densities that exceed the level at which human cognition and decision-making can assure separation. One of the challenges that must be faced involves the ability of such highly automated systems to maintain safety in the presence of inevitable subsystem faults, including the complete failure of the supporting computer system. Traffic density and flow complexity will make it impossible for human service providers to safely reinitiate manual control in the event of computer failure, so the automated system must have inherent fail-soft features. This paper presents a preliminary analysis of the ability of a highly automated separation assurance system to tolerate general types of faults such as nonconformance and computer outages. Safety-related design features are defined using the Advanced Airspace Concept (AAC) as the base architecture. Special attention is given to the impact of a severe failure in which all computer support is terminated within a defined region. The growth and decay of risk during an outage is evaluated using fault tree methods that integrate risk over time. It is shown that when a conflict free plan covers the region of the outage, this plan can be used to safely transition aircraft to regions where service can still be provided.
READ LESS

Summary

Aviation planners have called for increasing the capacity of the air transportation system by factors of two or three over the next 20 years. The inherent spatial capacity of en route airspace appears able to accommodate such traffic densities. But controller workload presents a formidable obstacle to achieving such goals...

READ MORE

Remotely piloted vehicles in civil airspace: requirements and analysis methods for the traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS) and see-and-avoid systems

Published in:
Proc. of the 23rd Digital Avionics Systems Conf., DASC, Vol. 2, 24-28 October 2004, pp. 12.D.1-1 - 12.D.1.14.

Summary

The integration of Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RF'Vs) into civil airspace will require new methods of ensuring aircraft separation. This paper discusses issues affecting requirements for RPV traffic avoidance systems and for performing the safety evaluations that will be necessary to certify such systems. The paper outlines current ways in which traffic avoidance is assured depending on the type of airspace and type of traffic that is encountered. Alternative methods for RPVs to perform traffic avoidance are discussed, including the potential use of new see-and-avoid sensors or the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). Finally, the paper outlines an established safety evaluation process that can be adapted to assure regulatory authorities that RPVs meet level of safety requirements.
READ LESS

Summary

The integration of Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RF'Vs) into civil airspace will require new methods of ensuring aircraft separation. This paper discusses issues affecting requirements for RPV traffic avoidance systems and for performing the safety evaluations that will be necessary to certify such systems. The paper outlines current ways in which...

READ MORE