Analysis and optimization of aircraft trajectories under the effects of meteorological uncertainties (OptMet)

Funding Entity:

Convocatorias 2014
Proyectos de I+D “EXCELENCIA” y Proyectos de I+D+I “RETOS INVESTIGACIÓN” Dirección General de Investigación Científica y TécnicaSubdirección General de Proyectos de Investigación


  • Universidad de Sevilla: Damián Rivas, Rafael Vazquez, Alfonso Valenzuela, Antonio Franco, Paula Pérez, Eulalia Hernández.
  • Universidad Carlos III de Madrid: Manuel Soler, Manuel Sanjurjo, Daniel González Arribas, David Morante.


  • Wind-optimal cruise trajectories using pseudospectral methods and ensemble probabilistic forecasts. D. González-Arribas, M. Soler, and M. Sanjurjo. ATACCS’15.
Uncertainty plot (std wind) 2016-01-20

Fig. Uncertainty plot (std wind) 2016-01-20


The research theme of this project is the analysis and optimization of aircraft trajectories under meteorological uncertainties, in particular under wind uncertainty and no-fly zones due to adverse weather phenomena. The main goals are: 1) to understand how the weather uncertainties affect the capacity, safety and efficiency of the air traffic management (ATM) system, and 2) to apply this knowledge to improve the robustness of strategically deconflicted, synchronized traffic scenarios. To reach these goals two scales will be

considered: microscale (trajectory) and mesoscale (traffic), and the uncertainty propagation between them (in both directions) will be analyzed.

The stochastic weather will be modeled using a probabilistic approach based on Ensemble Prediction Forecasts (EPF). EPF is a prediction technique that generates a representative collection of typically 10 to 50 weather forecasts (referred to as members), which are provided as raw tabular data that must be processed to provide analytical functions. In this project, the EPFs provided by Meteo France (which have 35 members) will be used.

At the trajectory (micro) scale, two problems will be studied: 1) wind uncertainty propagation along the aircraft trajectory, and 2) trajectory optimization under weather uncertainty. The analysis of uncertainty propagation along the trajectory is important because it allows one to assess the level of uncertainty of the trajectory itself, which in turn affects the traffic scale. Trajectory optimization under uncertainty will be addressed using two approaches: 1) stochastic programming, and 2) stochastic optimal control.

At the traffic (meso) scale, the propagation of weather uncertainty will be analyzed in two different settings: en-route traffic and traffic in the terminal maneuvering area (TMA), considering both propagation from the microscale to the mesoscale and vice versa. Of great importance at this scale is the development of stochastic conflict detection and conflict resolution algorithms, that is, algorithms capable of taking weather uncertainties into account.

All the operational algorithms developed in the project will be validated performing real-time, human-in-the-loop simulations, including pseudo-pilots and air traffic controllers. To perform the simulations, the facilities of the Center for Aeronautical Training and Services (CATS) which belongs to Universidad Carlos III de Madrid will be used. The assessment of the impact of human activity on the validation metrics defined in the project will be based on questionnaires and the opinion of human-factor experts and air traffic controllers.

This project can be classified in the challenge “Smart, green, and integrated transport” included in the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy 2013-2020, and it is well aligned with the international efforts that develop the future Global ATM Operational Concept, as SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) in Europe, and similar programs in USA and Japan. The outcome of this project will represent a step forward in the understanding of how weather uncertainties affect the ATM system, which is a necessary step towards the accomplishment of the high-level goals of SESAR of increasing the capacity of the system while maintaining high safety standards and improving the overall performance in terms of cost and environmental impact.