A framework for the assessment of collaborative en route resource allocation strategies

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  • Airspace Flow Programs (AFPs) assign ground delays to flights in order to limit flow through capacity constrained airspace regions. AFPs have been successful in controlling traffic with reasonable delays, but a new program called the Combined Trajectory Options Program, or CTOP, is being explored to further accommodate projected increases in traffic demand. In CTOP, centrally managed rerouting and user preference inputs are also incorporated into initial en route resource allocations. We investigate four alternative versions of resource allocation within CTOP in this research, under differing assumptions about the degree of random variability in airline flight assignment costs when measured against a simple model based upon the flight specific, but otherwise fixed, ratio of airborne flight time and ground delay unit cost. Two en route resource allocation schemes are based on ordered assignments that are similar to those used currently, and the other two are system-optimal assignment schemes. One of these system-optimal schemes is based on complete preference information, which is ideal but not realistic, and the other is based on partial information that may be feasible to implement but yields less efficient assignments. The main contribution of this research is a methodological framework to evaluate and compare these alternative en route resource allocation schemes, under varying assumptions about the information traffic managers have been provided about the flight operators’ route preferences. The framework allows us to evaluate these various schemes under differing assumptions about how well the traffic managers’ flight cost model captures flight costs. A numerical example demonstrates that a sequential resource allocation scheme – where flights are assigned resources in the order in which preference information is submitted – can be more efficient than a scheme that offers a cost minimizing allocation based on less complete preference information, and may at the same time be perceived as equitable. We also find that assigning resources in the order flights are scheduled results in less efficient allocations, but more equitable ones.

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    Article (Draft / Submitted)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International