New Delhi: A new aircraft queueing model, developed by two engineers at MIT including an alumna of IIT Madras, is claimed to not only bring down the pressure on the over-stressed air traffic control officers but also make airlines operations cost-effective if accepted by the aviation industry.
The researchers claim that the aircraft queueing model, based on a study carried out after analysing departure operations at the three major US airports--John F Kennedy, Newark Liberty, and Philadelphia International Airport-- predicts how long a plane will wait before takeoff, given weather conditions, runway traffic, and incoming and outgoing flight schedules.
The study conducted by Hamsa Balakrishnan, an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems at MIT, in association with a former graduate student Ioannis Simaiakis has been published in the journal Transportation Science.
It assumes significance for India where airports such as New Delhi, which handle bulk of the air traffic, often face acute shortage of Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCO).
On an average, the ATCOs at Delhi airport handle around 1,050 arrivals and departures per day while those at Mumbai over 800 flights every day.
Government had last year said that there were nearly 1,600 posts of air traffic controllers lying vacant at different airports in the country while acknowledging that ATCOs are at times under stress at airports having high density operations but suitable measures are in place to address such situations.
"The model may help air traffic controllers' direct departures more efficiently, minimising runway congestion. For example, if a controller knows that a plane is unlikely to take off for half an hour, he may choose to keep the plane at the gate to avoid contributing to runway backups," the study paper said.
In tests at various the US airports, the model encouraged controllers to hold flights back during certain times of day, leading to significant fuel savings, Balakrishnan said.