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Aircraft Landing

Aircraft Landing

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Algorithms for Scheduling Aircraft Landings
Andreas T Ernst and Mohan KrishnamoorthyAugust 15, 2001
CSIRO Mathematical and Information SciencesPrivate Bag 10, Clayton South MDC,Clayton VIC 3169, Australia.Andreas.Ernst@cmis.csiro.au, Mohan.Krishnamoorthy@cmis.csiro.au
Abstract
The problem of scheduling aircraft landings on one or more runways is an interesting prob-lem that is similar to a machine job scheduling problem with sequence dependent processingtimes and with earliness and tardiness penalties. The aim is to optimally land a set of planeson one or several runways in such a way that separation criteria between all pairs of planes(not just successive ones) are satisfied. Each plane has an allowable time window as well asa target time. There are penalties associated with landing either earlier or later than this targetlanding time.In this paper, we consider both the static and the dynamic version of the problem. The latteroccurs where decisions about the landing times for planes (and the runwaysthey land on) mustbe taken in a dynamic fashion as time passes and as the operational environment changes. Anumber of possible solution algorithms, both heuristic and exact, are discussed.
Keywords:
runwayoperations, landing, takeoff, scheduling, reactive scheduling, displacementproblem
1 Introduction
In this paper we introduce the problem of scheduling aircraft (plane) landings at an airport. Thisproblem is one of deciding a landing time on a runway for each plane in a given set of planes suchthat:
 
each plane lands at some time within a predetermined time window; and
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separation criteria between the landing of a plane, and the landing of all successive planes,are respected.The objective is to minimise the total (weighted) deviation from a desired target landing timefor each plane. This type of problem occurs at busy airports where making optimal use of thebottleneck resource (the runways) is crucial to keep the whole airport operating smoothly.Given a set of planes in the radar horizon of an air traffic controller (ATC), the problem is one ofdetermining a landing time for each plane such that each plane in this ATC horizon lands withina pre-specified landing time window and such that landing separation criteria specified for each1
 
pair of
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planes in this horizon are adhered to. This problem is a slightly unusual application that fitsinto the general category of machine scheduling problems. This problem was presented first byBeasley, Krishnamoorthy, Sharaiha & Abramson [5].As in [5], we are only concerned with modeling and solving the problem of scheduling aircraft landings in this paper. However, the approach presented in this paper is easily adaptable to aproblem featuring only takeoffs or, indeed, a problem involving a mix of takeoffs and landings onthe same (or on different) runways. In addition, in this paper, we are concerned with the staticcase of scheduling aircraft landings. The dynamic case of scheduling aircraft landings has beendealt with by Beasley, Krishnamoorthy, Sharaiha & Abramson[4]. Consider the planes within the radar range (or horizon) of an air traffic controller (ATC) at an air-port. Typically, the ATC will be in charge of determining approach paths, runway allocation andlanding times of several planes in the radar horizon. Each of these planes has a preferred landingtime as well as earliest and latest possible landing times. In addition, there are aerodynamic con-siderations that arise because of the turbulence created by landing aircraft. These considerationsimpose a constraint that the landing time between any two aircraft pairs in the horizon must begreater than some minimum interval. This minimum separation is dependent on the aircraft typesand could be different for different pairs of aircraft in the horizon.It is important to note here that whilst throughout this paper we shall only refer to planes landing,the model presented in this paper is applicable without change to problems involving just takeoffsonly and to problems involving a mix of landings and takeoffs on the same runway. We start bydescribing algorithms for the static case. In other words, we are dealing with the off-line casewhere we have complete knowledge of the set of planes that are going to land. We then showhow the methods for the static case can be adapted to deal with the dynamic, or on-line, case,wheredecisionsabout thelandingtimesfor planesmustbe madeastimepasses andthe situationchanges (planes land, new planes appear, etc).The problem of assigning to each plane, a landing time such that all planes land as close aspossible to their preferred landing time will be called the Aircraft Landing Problem (ALP). Thereare many variants of the ALP and many approaches for solving it. Most previous work in this areapresent simulation models (see Andreussi [2]), queueing models (see Milan[12]), or heuristics (see Dear [9], Dear & Sherif[10], Venkatakrishnan, Barnett & Odoni [17]). A dynamic program- ming based approach was considered by Psaraftis [14]. Beasley, Krishnamoorthy, Sharaiha &Abramson [5]provide a detailed review of the literature in this area. The work in [5] was based on an earlier mixed integer linear programming formulation and a genetic algorithm approach byAbela, Abramson, Krishnamoorthy, De Silva & Mills [1]. There are, however, many (optimisation)problems of interest in the area of air-space management and in air traffic control. Some of theseare discussed in, for example, Bianco & Odoni [6], Odoni, Rousseau & Wilson [13], and Winter & Nuber[18]. Bianco, Rinaldi & Sassano [8] and Bianco, Ricciardelli, Rinaldi & Sassano[7] adopt a job-shop scheduling view of the ALP. They solve the single runway problem using a mixed integer linearprogram. They provide a tree-search procedure with embedded Lagrangean lower bounds andalsodevelopaheuristic approachforthe problem. Theirpaperalso presentsasetofALPdata andprovides computational results for all of the approaches. The results provided in [7] are perhapsthe most complete set for the ALP apart from [5]. Most approaches for solving the job-shopscheduling problem with sequence dependent processing times are heuristic in nature, althoughthere exist some formulations, complexity results, worst case performance bounds and also someexact approaches.2
 
1.1 Problem context
Upon entering within air traffic control’s radar range (or horizon) at an airport, a plane requiresair traffic control to assign it a landing time, sometimes known as the broadcast time. This timemust lie within a specified time window, bounded by an earliest time and a latest time, these timesbeing different for different planes. The earliest time represents the earliest a plane can land if itflies at its maximum airspeed. The latest time represents the latest a plane can land if it slows toits slowest possible airspeed while also holding (circling) for the maximum allowable time. Eachplane has a most economical, preferred speed referred to as the cruise speed. A plane is said tobe assigned its preferred time, or target time, if it is required to fly in to land at its cruise speed. Ifair traffic control requires the plane to either slow down, hold or speed up, a cost will be incurred.This cost will grow as the difference between the assigned landing time and the target landingtime grows. In this paper we shall assume that this cost is linearly related to deviation from target.Figure 1 illustrates the variation in cost within the time window of a particular plane.The time between a particular plane landing, and the landing of any successive plane, must begreater than a specified minimum (the separation time) which is dependent upon the size of theplanes involved. A Boeing 747 generates a great deal of turbulence and therefore imposes a(relatively) large time delay before other planes can land. A light plane, by contrast, generateslittle turbulence and therefore imposes only a (relatively) small time delay before other planescan land. Planes taking off impose similar restrictions on successive operations. Note that theseminimum separations due to turbulence apply to all subsequent planes and not just the immediatesuccessive one. Thus the landing time of a plane can influence the possible landing times of twoor three subsequent planes.
1.2 Dynamic scheduling
The above assumes that we have perfect information about all planes that are going to land(or take off). However in practice the operational environment changes as time passes, newinformation becomes available making it necessary to revise the previous decisions that havebeen made. Whilst it is sufficient to assume a static environment for planning purposes, reallifeapplications require the study of tactical decisionmaking in operational environments.In scheduling aircraft landings, as a new plane appears we may have to revise the landing timesof planes that have already been scheduled for landing. This problem is dynamic in the sense thatplanned decisions are continually having to be revisited as the operational environment changes.However it is clear that, from an operational viewpoint, it may be undesirable to perturb the previ-ous decision ‘too much’ in making a new decision. Placing a new plane at the front of the landingqueue may change the previous scheduled landing time for all planes already in the queue. Typ-ically therefore in making a new decision we have to explicitly consider the previous decision(solution) as we have some degree of commitment to it and are reluctant to change it too much.Hence we have a displacement problem, the problem of making a decision but with an explicit linkback to the previous decision that was made.The remainder of the paper is structured as follows. In Section2we provide a mathematicalformulation of the ALP.Section3we present a specialised simplex method for finding optimal values of broadcast landingtimes given a determination of some or all off the sequencing variables. This algorithm can beused to quickly calculate lower bounds in a branch and bound scheme or to evaluate solutions ina heuristic for the plane landing sequence variables. We develop a heuristic approach based onproblem space search. This is described in Section4. The heuristic upper bound and the lower3

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