NLR - Henk BlomOn Friday 27 September Professor Henk Blom, Professor of Air Traffic Management Safety at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, will deliver his inaugural address titled: More flights: that calls for new ways of Air Traffic Management – How do we keep that safe?

The central theme of his address will be ‘agent-based safety risk analysis’, a method that can be used to determine the capacity and safety of new ATM designs using socio-technical modelling and simulation. In socio-technical modelling and simulation, researchers include the dynamic interactions between human actions, organisational policy, external circumstances and technical systems in the analysis as variables. Until now, this method had not been assigned to a specific chair at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering. Henk Blom works for TU Delft one day a week, combining this with his work for the National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR). The inaugural address will be given at 15.00 in the Aula Congress Centre at TU Delft.

More flight hours, more variability
Current procedures, systems and instruments for guiding aircraft from one airport to the next quickly and efficiently are extremely safe. However, central air traffic management, which coordinates and controls all flight movements, is also very labour intensive. To be able to handle growing numbers of commercial flights adjustments to Air Traffic Management are necessary. One possible option to increase the capacity, is to allow pilots to make more decisions themselves, with the aid of equipment in the cockpit: the Free Flight concept. Blom researched the capacity and safety of two Free Flight designs by socio-technical modelling and simulation. That meant that he used as variables in his modelling and simulation the dynamic interactions between participating aircraft, including the actions of the pilots, external circumstances and technical systems. Blom: ‘When using the agent-based safety risk analysis we model and simulate significantly more flight hours and variability in comparison with the traditional human-in-the-loop simulations or fast-time simulations. This reveals seldomly occuring safety risks. This knowledge can then be used by ATM designers in their designs.’One of the Free Flight concepts scored very well on safety in the case of a large number of flights. The second design showed too many safety risks in the case of an increasing number of flights. Free Flight is just one of the focus points of the analysis. Blom: ‘We also examine new Terminal Movement Area (TMA) concepts, for example those with new alarm systems for unwanted runway incursions.

Academic freedom
Henk Blom has been appointed as professor of Air Traffic Management Safety in the Air Transport & Operations research group at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering for one day a week. He also works as a researcher at the NLR. Blom: “My position at TU Delft gives me the academic freedom to set up interesting new lines of research. I’m also able to train a new generation of ATM experts in socio-technical modelling and simulation here, and so contribute to a safer and more efficient ATM in the future.”