A variety of design concepts have been implemented in sectorizing en route airspace, e.g. balancing controller workload, aligning sector shape with flow, and maintaining minimum dwell time. To efficiently serve demand variation over time and space and to increase efficiency, models for dynamic airspace management, e.g. frequently changing sector boundaries or re-organizing jet routes, have also been envisioned. In the U.S., a common way to deal with temporary demand peaks in a sector is to use multiple controller teams, e.g. a Radar-side controller plus a Data-side controller. In this study, we propose an optimization model to create airspace sector boundaries that takes traffic demand variations and multi-controller teams into account. We improve upon existing sectorization techniques by acknowledging that sector capacity can be increased by adding auxiliary controllers. By comparing a multi-controller policy with a single-controller policy, our numerical results confirm that when traffic demand patterns are steady over time, a single-controller policy is satisfactory. But when demand varies over time, sectors can be designed in a way that allows for strategic use of multi-controller teams. This makes effective use of controller workforce and circumvents the need to perform disruptive sector boundary changes during busy periods.
Theme: Dynamic Airspace and Capacity Management
Keywords: airspace partitoning, contoller cost, controller staffing, controller workload, dynamic airspace and capacity management, dynamic airspace configuration, multi-period design, sectorization, traffic patterns, variable sector capacity
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