Research

I’m doing my research for my Master’s thesis under Dr. Darbha Swaroop at Texas A&M University in College Station.

If you have read this page recently you should know that my research topic has changed pretty dramatically, I found that I wasn’t getting very far on it, and a better project came my way. I spent the summer of ’08 at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. It was a really great experience, and I met some really cool people, most importantly—in this context at least—I found a new research topic. I’ve been working on Airport Surface Optimization, specifically in takeoff sequencing.

You see, there are a number of variables that determine when an aircraft can take off—the most obvious being: is it on a runway—at least two of the variables have to do with some required separation between two or more aircraft. When an aircraft takes off (or lands) it does a bit of damage to the runway, and if you have a bunch of aircraft taking off in quick succession then the damage will be multiplied, so airports enforce a separation time between takeoffs (and landings) that allows the damage to “heal”. The other separation that is required is due to the airspace either around the current airport, the aircraft’s destination airport, or airspace in between. If there is poor weather en-route then the FAA enforces a separation between aircraft in the air. It makes no sense to let an aircraft take off if it cannot fly to its destination unencumbered, so it is desirable to hold the aircraft on the ground (these types of separations are called Fix Separations because the direction an aircraft is heading is called a fix). Presently fix separations aren’t dealt with very elegantly which can cause a delay for an aircraft that isn’t restricted by a fix constraint.

My research is in finding a better takeoff sequence, one that will reduce delays for aircraft that aren’t encumbered by weather constraints, and generally increase throughput at an airport. This has to do with how the aircraft are queued (stacked up before they reach the runway) mostly.

Update: My Master’s thesis is finished.