A Computer Model to Estimate Commercial Aviation Fuel Consumption and Emissions in the Continental United States (2013)

Author: Zhihao Zou

A comprehensive model is developed to estimate and predict the fuel consumption and emissions by domestic commercial aviation in the Continental United States. Most of the existing fuel consumption and emission models are limited in their ability to predict the annual fuel burn for air transportation at the national level. For example, those models either require real track data or are developed only to model single flight scenarios. The model developed in this thesis is part of a software framework called the Transportation Systems Analysis Model (TSAM). The model has the capability to estimate fuel consumption and emissions for millions of domestic flights in a year in the continental U.S. TSAM is a nationwide, long-distance, multimodal travel demand forecast model developed at Virginia Tech. The model enables TSAM to quantify fuel and emission metrics for various modes of transportation.

The EUROCONTROL Base of Aircraft Data (BADA) is employed as the Aircraft Performance Model to simulate individual flight profiles and calculate fuel burn rates. Fuel consumption on the ground (taxi mode) is estimated separately. Different operational conditions like wind states, terminal area detour, cruise altitude and airport elevation are considered in the model. Emissions of HC, CO, NOx and SOx are computed inside the Landing/Take-off (LTO) cycle based on the fuel consumption estimate, while greenhouse gas of CO2 is calculated for the complete flight cycle.

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