Synthesis of Information Related to Airport Practices. Topic S03-14. Simulation of Airside and Landside Operations in Airport Planning

Airports are the places where the nation’s air transportation system connects with other modes of transportation. Airports also contain the boundary where the control authority over the conduct of a flight changes over from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to the airline or other local, non-FAA authority (e.g., gate aprons). Airports also manage the dynamics of passenger flows moving through passenger-terminal areas to/from aircraft. Furthermore, airports are dynamic environments, with constant operational (e.g., new security procedures) and physical (e.g., new construction) changes in progress. In such a dynamic and interconnected environment, simulation can play a big role in the planning of operational/physical changes. Credible airport simulation helps airport administrators, engineers and planners estimate the impact of planned changes on passenger traffic, aircraft traffic, baggage movements, and other sub-processes. In the past couple of decades, airport simulation techniques have improved considerably because simulation developers have incorporated deeper understanding of the complex and intricate relationships governing airport operations into the simulation programs. Moreover, rapid advances in computer hardware technologies, software systems and parallel processing techniques have enabled simulation developers to add intricate data analytics and machine learning based models into the simulation programs. Today, all major airport development efforts involve the use of airport modeling and simulation, at some level, particularly in airport master plans, airport–airspace capacity studies, terminal studies, curbside capacity studies and assessment of airport impacts on the environment. There are a large number of available simulation tools for modeling air traffic on the air-side, i.e., on the airport surfaces and in near-airport airspace regions. There are also multiple software programs available that can model passenger flows inside the airport terminal buildings as well as related processes such as baggage movement, i.e., ground-side processes. An airport planner, researcher or administrator would greatly benefit from a survey of all available simulation tools and related modeling/analysis capabilities, because it will provide information on the capabilities of individual tools, how they can be integrated together to achieve broader analyses, and what are the current capability gaps. Equipped with such a survey, airport planners/researchers/administrators will be able to select simulation tools most appropriate for the investigation under consideration and thereby increase the effectiveness and reliability of the ensuing analysis. This synthesis study will explore existing airport simulation tools capable of simulating either airside operations or landside operations, or both. The study will also include information on how the simulation tools are used at large and medium hub airports and what benefit they provide. The study will also identify capability-gaps in existing airside and landside simulation tools, and propose research for filling these gaps. The principal investigator will review literature and conduct a survey of a representative sample of airports, including selected interviews. A concise report will be generated that summarizes the results of the literature review, survey and interviews. The report will include exemplary practices for simulation modeling for airport planning, as well as gaps in knowledge and recommended research.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 11-03, Topic S03-14

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Airport Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Aviation Administration

    800 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  United States  20591
  • Project Managers:

    Staba, Gail

  • Start Date: 20161029
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 41204

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01615481
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 11-03, Topic S03-14
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Oct 29 2016 1:01AM