Cooperative Control for Ground Traffic at Airports

Cooperative Control for Ground Traffic at Airports

Felipe Maia Galvão França (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) and Félix Mora-Camino (Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile, France)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-800-0.ch004
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With the sustained increase in air transportation, resulting in increased operational costs, potential danger with conflictive traffic conditions and delays for passengers and airlines, ground traffic has become a critical issue for many airports. In this communication the ground traffic at an airport is considered to be composed of three dependent flows: aircraft, passenger vehicles and servicing vehicles. It is assumed in this study that each type of vehicles belongs to a common pool which attends every arriving or departing aircraft. The objective here is to propose a global control structure based on cooperation between the different agents responsible for the management of each fleet to reduce overall aircraft traffic delays at airside.
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Airside Operations At Airports

Airside operations at airports are closely controlled and monitored by several systems, which are mainly operated by air navigation systems which make available detailed information about the progress and status of airside operations to each involved airport traffic decision maker. When incoming or departing flights are delayed, the airport decision makers are informed, and can thus adapt their operations, in order to integrate this delay. However, when considering airport ground traffic, until recently, there was in general no information available for ground operators in the airport, about the status and progress of aircraft ground traffic and of ground operations. Some airlines have already developed, for their own use, information systems which are able to provide information about ground operations on the apron. Also, some systems have been developed, mainly in the case of freighters, for the monitoring and control of the different fleets of vehicles on the airport. But these systems, designed in general to attend the specific needs of each fleet manager, are not able to share information with other ground vehicle management systems and the other airport ground operators. This lack of coordination between the activities of the different airport ground actors (airport operations, ATC, airlines, luggage delivery system, catering systems, passengers boarding and disembarking resources, etc.) generates frequently unnecessary delays for aircraft and an inefficient use of the available fleets of ground service vehicles. This leads in the mean term to a diminution of the overall airside capacity of airports, since its ground component has been recognized recently (see figure 1 where Φa is the flow of arriving aircraft, Φd is the flow of departing aircraft and N0 is the number of grounded aircraft) to have a relevant impact on it.

Figure 1.

3D theoretical airside capacity


It also generates a large difficulty to anticipate delays and operations disruptions and to re-organize accordingly the different ground operations.

Different projects have been already realized to overcome these difficulties, providing in real time not only a global view of instant ground traffic at airports but also providing some degree of anticipation to compensate for predicted delays. Today these new information systems allow the development of improved ground traffic management systems. The resulting management structure should be composed of three levels:

  • a planning level where ground vehicle fleets and workforce are dimensioned, fleet depots are localized and traffic ways are established;

  • an operational level where resources (vehicles and staffs) are assigned on the short term to the different ground operations;

  • a control level where vehicles are localized and controlled on line.

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