Research Projects

A Gap Analysis of Aviation Infrastructure Between Airport and Air Navigation Service Capacities

There is a potentially a gap between airport capacity (e.g., runways, gates) and the increased capacity brought about by the satellite-based, digital infrastructure being implemented. Identifying the gaps between these two capacities and solutions to fill them will help decision makers be more effective in making wise investment decisions so that future airport and ANSP initiatives to increase capacity are more cost-effective and efficient through better alignment.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

The consequences of airport congestion manifest themselves in delays and poor resilience of flight schedules. They also have a socio-economic cost, through a lowering of the number of offered destinations and flight frequencies. In some cases, congestion may lead to higher costs of flying due to the negative impact that capacity constraints have on competition between carriers. The decrease in air connectivity also affects the levels of trade, tourism and investment, with potential adverse effects on economic growth.

Addressing the infrastructure gap will be critical to ensure timely and coordinated investment decisions between stakeholders to maximize the benefits of those investments in new capacities and capabilities. One of the key challenges associated with the increase of airport and ATM capacities is the "last mover advantage" problem because it is financially advantageous for stakeholders to delay investments until the last possible moment. This potentially disrupts the implementation of additional capacity that require various stakeholders to invest. Identifying infrastructure gaps will be essential to better coordinate investments between stakeholders to address the last mover advantage.

With traffic growth in the coming decades forecast at around 5 per cent annually, capacity constraints are likely to extend in reach and grow in intensity. Initial research indicates that congestion at the 100 largest airports could result in as much as 1 200 million passengers lost or redirected to less attractive airports in 2030, or around 20 per cent of the demand at these airports. As these airports represent 85 per cent of the global demand in 2030, the number of passengers affected by congestion amounts to 17 per cent of all traffic. To avoid this adverse economic impact from loss of connectivity it becomes imperative that government, in consultation with other stakeholders, adapt infrastructure to keep pace with the forecasted growth in aircraft movements.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

Better knowledge of the capacity constraints posed by the ANSP so airports and ASNPs can better align their investments and collaborate to strategically invest in infrastructure.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)
  1. Study long term global air traffic forecasts and determine which are the most reliable
  2. Distinguish between infrastructure that an ANSP must provide and what an airport must provide
  3. Review and Analyze the ANSP capacity increase offered and realized through advanced infrastructure (e.g., NextGen, SESAR, enabling technologies)
  4. Review and analyze capacity expansion provided by airports
  5. Analyze the gap between the 3 and 4 above
  6. Provide prioritization of gaps and recommendations on how to address
Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

$200,000 for a comprehensive analysis should provide suitable resources for this narrow scope. A core team of 3-4 operations research analysts should be able to complete the research in about a year and little travel is foreseen.

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

ACRP research in this area includes:

ACRP 104 – Defining and Measuring Aircraft Delay and Airport Capacity
ACRP 79 – Evaluating Airfield Capacity
ACRP 190 – Common Performance Metrics for Airport Infrastructure and
Operational Planning

This existing research addresses airfield capacity, but the proposed research would bring in new and existing research on ANSP-provided airspace capacity building and take the additional step analyse the gap between the two capacities. With this information, stakeholders could work collaboratively to cost-effectively and efficiently allocate resources so that future airport and ANSP initiatives to increase capacity are better aligned. 

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Idea No. 152