As acknowledged by the SESAR (Single European Sky ATM (Air Traffic Management) Research) program, current Air Traffic Control (ATC) systems must be drastically improved to accommodate the predicted traffic growth in Europe. In this context, the Episode 3 project aims at assessing the performance of new ATM concepts, like 4D-trajectory planning and strategic deconfliction.
One of the bottlenecks impeding ATC performances is the hourly capacity constraints defined on each en-route ATC sector to limit the rate of aircraft. Previous works were mainly focused on optimizing the current ground holding slot allocation process devised to satisfy these constraints. We propose to estimate the cost of directly solving all conflicts in the upper airspace with ground holding, provided that aircraft were able to follow their trajectories accurately.
We present a Constraint Programming model of this large-scale combinatorial optimization problem and the results obtained with the FaCiLe (Functional Constraint Library). We study the effect of uncertainties on the departure time and estimate the cost of improving the robustness of our solutions with the Complete Air Traffic Simulator (CATS). Encouraging results were obtained without uncertainty but the costs of robust solutions are prohibitive. Our approach may however be improved, for example, with a prior flight level allocation and the dynamic resolution of remaining conflicts with one of CATS’ modules.