Analysis of Potential Wake Turbulence Encounters in Current and NextGen Flight Operations (2011)

Author: Nataliya T. Schroeder

Wake vortices pose a threat to a following aircraft , because they can induce a roll and compromise the safety of everyone on board. Caused by a difference in pressure between the upper and the lower part of the wings, these invisible flows of air are a major hazard and have to be avoided by separating the aircraft at considerable distances. One of the known constraints in airport capacity for both departure and arrival operations is the large headway resulting from the wake spacing separation criteria. Reducing wake vortex separations to a safe level between successive aircraft can increase capacity in the National Airspace System (NAS) with corresponding savings in delay times.

One of the main goals of the Wake Encounter Model (WEM) described in this thesis is to assess the outcome from future reduced separation criteria in the NAS. The model has been used to test probable encounters in today‚ s operations, and can also be used to test NextGen scenarios, such as Close Parallel Approaches and reduced in-trail separation flights.

This thesis presents model enhancements to account for aircraft turning maneuvers, giving the wake a more realistic shape. Three major airspaces, New York, Southern California and Atlanta, were analyzed using the original and the enhanced WEM to determine if the enhanced model better represents the conditions in today‚ s operations. Additionally, some analysis on the wake lateral travel for closely spaced runways is presented in this thesis. Finally, some extension tools for post-analysis, such as animation tool and various graphs depicting the interactions between wake pairs were developed.

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