TITLE: Modeling, Simulating, and Optimizing Aircraft, Airline, Airport, and Air Traffic Operations - The Story of My Life in Operations Research


ABSTRACT: Operations research has had and continues to have significant impact in almost every aspect of the aerospace enterprise – from preliminary design of aircraft to the setting of airline ticket prices. I have been drawn to the operational side of the aerospace enterprise and to the development and use of OR in aerospace operations because of my passion for making sure that the things that fly do so as efficiently as possible. To this end I will highlight the ways I have used modeling, simulation, and optimization to solve some very challenging problems in aircraft, airline, airport, and air traffic operations. With respect to aircraft operations, I will discuss the development of noise and fuel optimal arrival procedures that have already yielded significant savings throughout the country, and the development of a stochastic model of en route winds that led to a patented methodology for determining the cruise speed that guarantees compliance with a specified arrival time while minimizing expected fuel burn during flight. With regards to airline operation, I will discuss the development of robust aircraft flight schedules (the strategic aspect of airline operations) and the development of an algorithm for airline schedule recovery that jointly (as opposed to sequentially) considers passengers, crew, and aircraft when determining how to respond to schedule disruptions (the tactical aspect of airline operations). With regards to airport operations, I will discuss the development of robust gating assignment algorithms that reduce congestion on the ramp and the need for the last-minute re-assignment of flights to gates when aircraft are delayed. With regards to air traffic operations, I will discuss the development of runway and terminal area scheduling algorithms that are robust to uncertainties in aircraft pushback and terminal area arrival times, and provide significant time and fuel savings through the optimal assignment of flights to, and scheduling of flight at runways and terminal area entry and exit fixes.


BIO: John-Paul Clarke is a College of Engineering Dean’s Professor at Georgia Tech, where he has an appointment in Aerospace Engineering and a courtesy appointment in Industrial and Systems Engineering, and serves as Director of the Air Transportation Laboratory.


Dr. Clarke’s research in aircraft trajectory prediction and optimization, especially as it pertains to the development of flight procedures that reduce the environmental impact of aviation, has been instrumental in changing both the theory and the practice of flight procedure design. More broadly, his research focuses on the development and use of stochastic models and optimization algorithms to improve the efficiency and robustness of aircraft, airline, airport, and air traffic operations.


Professor Clarke was co-Chair of the National Academies Committee that developed the US National Agenda for Autonomy Research related to Civil Aviation, and a member of the National Academies Committee that reviewed the Next Generation Air Transportation System. He is currently co-Chair of the Joint Planning Committee for the AIAA-AAAF Aviation Noise and Emissions Reduction Symposium (ANERS) and a member of the NASA Advisory Council Aeronautics Committee. Over the years, he has chaired or served on advisory and technical committees chartered by the AIAA, EU, FAA, ICAO, NASA, the National Academies, the US Army, and the US DOT.


Dr. Clarke received the S.B., S.M., and Sc.D. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1991, 1992, and 1997, respectively. His many prior honors include the 1999 AIAA/AAAE/ACC Jay Hollingsworth Speas Airport Award, the 2003 FAA Excellence in Aviation Award, the 2006 National Academy of Engineering Gilbreth Lectureship, the 2012 AIAA/SAE William Littlewood Lectureship, and the SAE Environmental Excellence in Transportation Award in 2015. He is a Fellow of the AIAA, and is a member of AGIFORS, INFORMS, and Sigma Xi.