Prediction of estimated time of arrival for multi-airport systems via “Bubble” mechanism

Lechen Wang, Jianfeng Mao*, Lishuai Li, Xuechun Li, Yilei Tu

*Corresponding author for this work

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Predicting Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) for a Multi-Airport System (MAS) is much more challenging than for a single airport system because of complex air route structure, dense air traffic volume and vagaries of traffic conditions in an MAS. In this work, we propose a novel “Bubble” mechanism to accurately predict medium-term ETA for a Multi-Airport System (MAS), in which the prediction of travel time of an origin–destination (OD) pair is decomposed into two stages, termed as out-MAS and in-MAS stages. For the out-MAS stage, Auto-Regressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA) is used to predict the travel time of a flight to reach the MAS boundary. For the in-MAS stage, we construct new spatio-temporal features based on clustering analysis of trajectory patterns facilitated by a novel data-driven hybrid polar sampling method. A sequence-to-sequence prediction model, Multi-variate Stacked Fully connected Bidirectional Long–Short Term Memory, is further developed to achieve multi-step-ahead predictions of in-MAS travel time for each trajectory pattern using the spatio-temporal features as input. Finally, the medium-term ETA prediction for an MAS is achieved by integrating the out-MAS and in-MAS prediction with the help of trajectory pattern prediction via random forest. A case study of predicting medium-term ETA for a typical MAS in China, Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area, is conducted to demonstrate the usage and promising performance of the proposed method in comparison to several commonly used end-to-end learning methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104065
Number of pages27
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Flight estimated time of arrival
  • Medium-term prediction
  • Multi-airport systems
  • Sequence-to-sequence model
  • Spatio-temporal features
  • Trajectory pattern clustering


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