Knowledge development and scientific research at NLR

A PhD degree and two ‘Best Paper Awards’: three NLR researchers were recently honoured for their outstanding scientific achievements. Mariken Everdij received her PhD degree from the University of Twente (UT) and Jelmer Scholte and Sybert Stroeve both won Best Paper Awards in their respective research fields.

NLR conducts applied research for the aviation and aerospace sectors, and this cannot be done without demand-driven knowledge development and scientific research. We are therefore extremely pleased with the following outstanding scientific achievements:

On 11 June 2010, Mariken Everdij (NLR-ATSI) successfully defended her PhD thesis at the University of Twente. Her thesis developed three classes of Petri net, which are mathematical models used, for example, in computer science to model parallel processes. These developments render it possible to model and more efficiently analyse various key elements, including the position and speed of an aircraft, air traffic control instructions, hazardous events and variation in reaction times.The Petri net classes developed in this thesis have already been successfully applied many times, at NLR and beyond. The models and analysis tools have been used to identify the weak points and safety-critical issues of air transport operations, with the objective being to improve the operational concepts.

Jelmer Scholte (NLR-ATSI) received the Best Paper Award in the ‘Safety and Security’ at the ICRAT 2010 conference held in Budapest. The paper, titled ‘Study of SESAR implied safety validation needs’, was co-authored by Henk Blom (NLR-ATSI) and Alberto Pasquini (Deep Blue), and is based on research fully financed by the EU.
The paper focuses on the challenges for safety analysis that are associated with the development of the Single European Sky, which is currently being planned in the SESAR Program (Single European Sky ATM Research). The paper provides an overview of the needs for improvement for safety analysis that were identified by SESAR itself, and identifies techniques that may address these needs.

During the 9th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi Agent Systems (AAMAS 2010), Sybert Stroeve (NLR-ATSI) and Alexei Sharpanskykh (VU University, Amsterdam) received the ‘Best Industry Track Paper Award’ for their paper titled, ‘Can we predict safety culture?’ Their award-winning paper focused on an entirely new way to describe and predict safety culture in an organization. Stroeve and Sharpanskykh developed an agent-based model for safety culture in the context of incident reporting by air traffic controllers. The model was tested using data from a EUROCONTROL study. The model predictions were found to correspond well with these data.