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Advanced Capacity and Demand Management for European Network Performance Optimization

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CADENZA (Advanced Capacity and Demand Management for European Network Performance Optimization)

Reporting period: 2021-08-01 to 2022-11-30

CADENZA project addresses the problem many European air travellers have been facing during the last decade – high and frequent air traffic delays. Although this problem has been alleviated at the beginning of the COVID-19 in 2020 due to substantial traffic drop, once traffic started to recover during summer 2022 delays went up again to pre-pandemic levels. To avoid congested airspace and hence long delays, airlines sometimes decide to fly longer routes than initially planned, thus generating higher emissions than necessary. Moreover, airlines plan and fly longer-than-necessary routes even in nominal circumstances without congestions, partially due to the current airspace charging scheme which does not incentives airlines to always choose shortest routes.

CADENZA contributes to a paradigm shift in the current process of establishing balance between demand and capacity (DCB). Namely, we explore alternative DCB concepts, with different roles in the DCB decision-making for the NM, options for capacity and demand management measures and principle how the network performance is optimised in the European Air Traffic Management (ATM). To that end, we define and evaluate two different concepts: Trajectory Broker (TB) and Empowered Network Manager (ENM), where these entities, compared to current state of affairs, have a more pro-active role and decision-making mandate to establish demand-capacity balance and resolve any imbalances. We envisage network-centric and robust capacity planning for a day of operations to ensure that capacity is provided where and when needed. On the demand side, we evaluate the benefits of network-centric (ENM concept) and network-oriented (TB concept) novel demand management approach. In addition, we introduce route-independent airport-pair charging scheme, which takes away incentives from airlines to plan and fly longer routes.

We find that both developed and explored CADENZA concepts – Trajectory Broker and Empowered Network Manager – offer improvements in network performance:
- ATFM delays are reduced by 20% on average across 100 scenarios, enabling more stable operations for Airspace Users throughout the day. Also, on average 5.5% less sector-hours are required to manage the same traffic compared to a baseline model.
- We observe, on average, overall savings of 6.6% in Airspace Users’ direct operating cost, that is, fuel, delay and charges.
- Significant emissions reduction with, on average, 40-50% lower emissions from re-routings compared to a modelled baseline, which resembles the current system. Route-independent airport-pair charging may eliminate inefficiency in routing induced by differentiated airspace charging, with potential annual emissions savings of more than 300,000 tons of CO2.
- We find that capacity-on-demand service would require only small single-digit proportion of sector-hours to be shared among ACCs to reap benefits, such as reduced costs of delays and re-routings by 25% and reduced variable network cost by up to 2.7%.
Despite some restructuring and rescheduling of the project, due to COVID-19 pandemic, we carried out all the activities planned.

Research-wise, we defined and developed the aforementioned concepts of TB and ENM, with associated advanced DCB options. Based on these conceptual models, we developed a set of mathematical models for network performance optimisation, considering also business and operational aspects and requirements from the key operational stakeholders – airlines and capacity providers. We defined and developed a large scale case study, encompassing the entire European airspace for one whole day of operations. In numbers, this means 40 different Air Navigation Service Providers, 118 different Area Control Centres/sector clusters, almost 1,300 different sector configuration options on the capacity side and more than 36,500 flights with up to 8 different routing options in the airspace considered. We run an extensive set of experiments and simulations to obtain results, including comparison against a suitable set of reference scenarios to make conclusions about the explored concepts.

With regard to communication and dissemination, we first defined the plan which we executed entirely and exceeded all the targets. We presented CADENZA research at various stakeholder events and dedicated meetings upon invitation, such as dedicated meetings with EUROCONTROL (NET Research unit concept consolidation group, Operations Planning Unit, ATM/ANS Environmental Transparency Working Group), European Regions Airline Association’s Operations and Air Safety Group, CANSO Europe Strategical Political Group, Skyguide and FINEST. We also participated and presented at stakeholder events: FABEC OPS theatre at the World ATM Congress 2021 and 2022, Europe for Aviation stand at the World ATM Congress 2022 and FABEC research workshop in 2022.

In terms of results, the CADENZA project has produced fifteen deliverables, of which nine are related to core research activities, and five are deliverables related to project planning and management, communication, dissemination of results, data management and one for ethics compliance. We have twelve publications and presentations at different academic and stakeholder conferences, such as SESAR Innovation Days, International Conference on Research in Air Transportation, Air Transport Research Society, INFORMS, etc. We have one journal paper published, two are in the revision phase, one is under review and at least one more in the pipeline.
CADENZA progressed state of the art in several different areas. Conceptually, we explore and evaluate two different concepts of a potential future ATM and DCB in Europe in a way which, to the best of our knowledge, hasn’t been done before. Moreover, we evaluate the benefits of concepts and services proposed by the very influential industry reports, but which have not been tested thus far. From the operations research perspective, we define mathematical models and propose novel solution approaches for strategic (robust) capacity decision-making from network perspective. Also, we developed a completely novel model for pre-tactical and tactical demand management with so called “trajectory products” and dynamic and differentiated trajectory charging principles applied. These mathematical models are the core part of CADENZA publications, which are either published or under revision in the leading journals.

Both TB and ENM concepts have significant impact on improving cost-efficiency, by minimising total cost of capacity provision and costs of delays and re-routings. These costs are borne by airlines and are usually passed on to the end users of air transport system – passengers and cargo shippers. CADENZA concepts also have a big impact on capacity – novel DCB concepts allow the same level of traffic to be safely managed with less capacity (sector-hours) used in the network and at the same time, with substantially reduced delays for airlines and passengers. Last, but not least, CADENZA has a potential to make a major impact on environment with its network-centric optimisation of capacity provision, which enables airlines to plan and fly shorter and more environmentally friendly routes.

It is also worth noting that the core CADENZA team has also submitted a proposal for another potential SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking project (under the call HORIZON-SESAR-2022-DES-ER-01).