To plan for future capacity needs and mitigate environmental impacts, the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization requires detailed projections of where traffic growth will occur. These network forecasts are produced and used to project future performance, identify operational shortfalls, determine workforce requirements, and estimate the benefits of future investments. Each network forecast is a projected schedule which can be used to estimate future air traffic to the sector and to the minute. The projected schedules are based upon the assumption that the future air transportation system network structure will be the same as the current network structure. That is, no new direct flights are added (or subtracted) between cities, and it is assumed that the existing airline hubs will continue to operate without any additions or subtractions.
However, the future network structure is likely to differ from the current structure. Historically, the competitive nature of the airline industry is such that new direct routes are routinely added between cities with significant passenger demand. In addition, the location and number of airline hubs are not fixed (e.g., eliminated hub operations in St. Louis and Pittsburgh) and hubs that persist can be substantially restructured. Furthermore, as environmental policies evolve and the busiest airports approach capacity limits, the future network structure will undoubtedly change.
The Project 23 objective was to analyze airline network topology dynamics and identify likely alternative network structures, including especially the ability to forecast creation of service for new city pairs. Such an analysis capability should reduce risks associated with present FAA forecasts and thus enable improved assessments of solutions for capacity and environmental challenges.
Creation of a validated network restructuring forecast method and tool; analysis of scenarios that include perturbations in airline strategy, airport/system capacity, and environmental targets.
Daniel DeLaurentis, professor, Purdue University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph Post, email@example.com