Optimization of aircraft trajectories over the North Atlantic Airspace

Abstract : The objective of the present thesis is to propose new more efficient trends to improve the air traffic situation over the North Atlantic (NAT) airspace. In fact, the NAT is considered to be the most congested oceanic airspace in the world. For many years, air traffic control in this airspace has experienced many difficulties caused by the time zone differences, passenger demands and strong winds induced by the jet streams. This leads to high congestion in the airspace especially at peak hours. Furthermore, flight trajectory prediction and control are very limited due to the lack of radar coverage in oceanic airspace. To support conflict-free flight progress, a structure of routes, called Organized Track System (OTS), is established in the NAT and very restrictive separation standards are applied. These rigid rules oblige flights to follow non-optimal trajectories, which negatively influences the fuel consumption and the total flight cost. In order to guarantee efficient traffic separation in the context of ever increasing traffic density, alternative means of communication, navigation and surveillance were developed and progressively be implemented, one of the most promising being the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). The widespread use of ADS-B makes it possible to organize traffic in new ways, as an alternative to the OTS, which is the main focus of the current work. First of all, we investigate the possibility of introducing the Free Flight Concept (FFC) in NAT. Indeed, we present an approach to construct and organize NAT traffic based on a swarm behavior. Here, the traffic is considered as a Multi-Agent system where all flights cooperate, thanks to ADS-B equipage, in order to construct their trajectories, while detecting and resolving conflicts between each other. The resulting trajectories are efficient in term of cruise time. However, they are not robust regarding changing winds. Next, we propose a new route structure for eastbound NAT traffic that benefit from the jet stream. This route structure is called Wind-Optimal Track Network (WOTN), and is constructed based on the reduced separation norms. WOTN covers larger airspace than the OTS, in order to handle the growing traffic. Roughly, WOTN is constructed in such a way that nearby parallel tracks are made to follow the jet streams and re-routing between tracks is only allowed in the input and output sections of the structure. Results reveal the importance of implementing a route structure in order to guaranty robust trajectories in the face of strong winds. Finally, we propose an approach to allow aircraft to safely exit the route structure in case of an emergency. The overall methodologies are implemented and tested with eastbound flight data over the NAT. We thereby produce conflict-free and robust trajectory planning for eastbound NAT flights, while benefiting from the reduced separation norms and the jet stream thus proving the efficiency of our approaches.
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Imen Dhief. Optimization of aircraft trajectories over the North Atlantic Airspace. Optimization and Control [math.OC]. Université Paul Sabatier (Toulouse 3), 2018. English. ⟨tel-01912385⟩

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