Air traffic in Europe is predicted to increase considerably over the next decades. In this context, we present a study of the interactions between the costs due to ground-holding regulations and the costs due to en-route air traffic control. We describe a traffic simulator that considers the regulation delays, aircraft trajectories, and air conflict resolution. Through intensive simulations based on traffic forecasts extrapolated from French traffic data for 2012, we compute the regulation delays and avoidance maneuvers according to two scenarios: the current regulations and no regulations. The resulting cost analysis highlights the exponential growth in regulation costs that can be expected if the procedures and the airspace capacity do not change. Compared to the delay costs, the costs of the air traffic control are negligible with or without regulation. The analysis reveals the heavy controller workloads when there are no regulations, suggesting the need for regulations that are appropriate for large traffic volumes and an improved ATC system. These observations motivate the design of a third scenario that computes the sector capacities to find a compromise between the increase in the delay costs due to ground-holding regulations and the increase in the controller workload. The results reveal the sensitivity of the delay costs to the sector capacity; this information will be useful for further research into ATM sector capacity and ATC automated tool design. Finally, because of the growing interest in the free flight paradigm, we also perform a traffic and cost analysis for aircraft following direct routes. The results obtained highlight the fuel and time savings and the spatial restrictions that companies use to avoid congested areas.
Published July 2014 , 24 pages