Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Flying the ideal, optimal trajectory and vertical profile has been the holy grail of ATM research for decades. For this purpose, a lot of this research has been oriented towards a concept called Trajectory-Based Operations (TBO). In TBO, the trajectory becomes the fundamental element of the ATM system. The current ATM system is based on more tactical clearances. TBO should provide the capabilities, decision support tools, and automation to manage aircraft movement by trajectory. This shift from clearance-based to trajectory-based ATC should enable aircraft to plan and fly negotiated so-called business trajectories.

At the planning level, TBO aims at more efficient and environmentally friendly flight planning concepts, reducing airlines operating costs, allowing a climatic-friendly ATM system, while at the same time increasing the capacity of the system without jeopardizing its safety. Specific research domains within aircraft trajectory optimization with open questions include (but it is not limited to): the consideration of uncertainties in trajectory optimization, the assessment and minimization of climatic impact in aircraft operations, the modelling and resolution of multi-aircraft problems leading to system-wide solutions that are stable and resilient.

At the execution level, the question remains whether the extra investment, effort and communication are worth the yet unknown benefits. What if it becomes merely a more verbose clearance-based system, in which trajectory updates are as frequent as waypoint passing? Therefore, the key issue for solving conflicts or sequencing problems is a very high predictability. For research, one of the questions to address thus is: is this high predictability feasible and which methods are available to improve it.

The mismatch between planned and actual trajectories caused, among others, by inherent uncertainties arising in aircraft operations, including airports, air traffic control interventions, and unavailable information, e.g., the cost index, and the take-off weight, constitute significant gaps that the scientific community need to tackle. The exploitation of data by means of artificial intelligence and causal models can lead to novel trajectory prediction approaches, which could facilitate the transition towards the TBO paradigm. Open research domains include novel approaches to propagate aircraft trajectory uncertainties, the deepen into artificial intelligence techniques for enhancing the prediction of aircraft trajectories, and the aggregation of different sources of uncertainties in trajectory predictions, notably weather via Ensemble Probabilistic Forecasts.

This special issue intends to bring recognition to the contribution of aircraft trajectory optimization and aircraft trajectory prediction techniques and will provide a forum to disseminate the latest research work with the aim of further stimulating interest in this area of great potential.

Potential topics include but are not limited to the following:

  • Robust aircraft trajectory optimization.
  • Aircraft trajectory optimization and climate change.
  • Uncertainty propagation in trajectory prediction.
  • Artificial Intelligence techniques applied to aircraft trajectory optimization
  • Artificial Intelligence techniques applied to trajectory prediction
  • Stable and resilient solutions to the ATM-System

Dr. Manuel Soler
Prof. Dr. Jacco M. Hoekstra
Guest Editors