Simulation-Based Study to Quantify Data-Communication Benefits in Congested Airport Terminal Area (2008)

Author: Gabriele Enea

The scope of this study was to evaluate the impact of the air traffic controller-to-pilot communication standard known as CPDLC or Data-Communication on the future air traffic operations. The impact was evaluated from the double viewpoint of airport delays and air traffic controllers’ workload. RAMS simulation software is used to perform all the runs and from its output data the values of terminal area delays and controllers workload are obtained. The New York Metroplex terminal area was used as a case study. Because of its complexity, where three major airports (i.e. JFK, Newark, and La Guardia) interact and constraint each other, this area was particularly interesting to be studied and the data analyzed gave a valuable insight on the possible future impact of Data-Communication in congested terminal areas. The results of the study, based on some previous man-in-the-loop simulations performed by the FAA in the nineties, showed that significant potential benefits could be obtained with the complete implementation of such technologies in the workload experienced by air traffic controllers. Moreover some small but not negligible benefits were obtained in the total delays accrued by each airport studied. On the other hand, the simulations of the future demand predicted by the FAA demonstrated that without a significant increment in capacity or limitation on the traffic growth intolerable delays would be recorded across the NAS in the future. For the complexity of the simulation model calibration and for the very time-consuming run time not all the scenarios described in the methodology were tested, demonstrating the weakness of RAMS as a ground simulation model.

[Full Text]