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The sustained growth in air traffic and limitations in existing airport infrastructure have in recent years put a strong emphasis on the development and standardization of future advanced surface movement guidance, control, and management systems. The objective of the technologies is to increase the traffic-flow capacity at airports, while maintaining the required safety level. Most technologies for surface traffic management are still in testing at various airports, with some closer to completion than others.
The most successful design algorithms for surface traffic management focus on real-time data integration and delivery of the results to the controllers, rather than supplanting the controller entirely; they are still human-centric designs. In high-traffic situations, tested STM systems have reduced departure delays by almost three-fifths, and some have also reported cutting fuel burn up to 38%. In moderate or low traffic scenarios, however, the algorithms made no difference in delay time. Advanced systems such as the SAGA aim to provide real-time visibility via satellite and visual tracking, among other features, which could increase this performance.

Potential hazard

  1. Database errors
  2. Runway incursions/excursions due to lack of proper training, interface design, and usage
  3. Equipage inconsistencies between aircraft and ground surface flow equipment
  4. Failure to follow assigned taxi clearance due to poor flight deck interface design
  5. Cyber attack

Corroborating sources and comments (Paper by a NASA Ames employee analyzing a schema for surface traffic management. Consisting of two algorithms, the Spot Release Planner and the Runway Scheduler, both of which posited recommendations to human controllers, it demonstrated mixed results in the simulation: in high traffic, it reduced departure delays and stops by 64 and 68%, respectively, and cut fuel burn by 38%. In moderate traffic, it did nothing.) (A Norwegian surface traffic system is in testing in three airports across Europe. Research has supported its effectiveness in determining appropriate timing and taxiing procedures, including on the fly, and claims it has improved “punctuality of aircraft departures” by 60%. Note the emphasis on facilitating communication between take-off and landing controllers, including integrating data from both parties.) (The SAGA system aims to provide real-time visibility of surrounding areas via satellite, visual tracking for airside operations teams, and rapid data analytics. It’s currently in the trial stages.)

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