The Influence of Traffic Structure on Airspace Capacity

Emmanuel Sunil, Jacco Hoekstra, Joost Ellerbroek, F Bussink, A Vidosavljevic, D Nieuwenhuisen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientific

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Airspace structure can be used as a procedural mechanism for a priori separation and organization of en-route air traffic. Although many studies have explored novel structuring methods to increase en-route airspace capacity, the relationship between the level of structuring of traffic and airspace capacity is not well established. To better understand the influence of traffic structure on airspace capacity, in this research, four airspace concepts, representing discrete points along the dimension of structure, were compared using large-scale simulation experiments. By subjecting the concepts to multiple traffic demand scenarios, the structure-capacity relationship was inferred from the effect of traffic demand variations on safety, efficiency and stability metrics. These simulations were performed within the context of a future personal aerial transportation system, and considered both nominal and non-nominal conditions. Simulation results suggest that the structuring of traffic must take into account the expected traffic demand pattern to be beneficial in terms of capacity. Furthermore, for the heterogeneous, or uniformly distributed, traffic demand patterns considered in this work, a decentralized layered airspace concept, in which each altitude band limited horizontal travel to within a predefined heading range, led to the best balance of all the metrics considered.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication7th International Conference on Research in Air Transportation
Subtitle of host publicationPhiladelphia, USA
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event7th International Conference on Research in Air Transportation - Drexel University, Philadelphia, United States
Duration: 20 Jun 201624 Jun 2016
Conference number: 7


Conference7th International Conference on Research in Air Transportation
Abbreviated titleICRAT 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • airspace structure
  • airspace capacity
  • en-route airspace design
  • air traffic control
  • air transportation system performance


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