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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Industrial Engineering & Operations Research

Year Degree Awarded

Spring 2014

First Advisor

Dr. Ahmed Ghoniem

Subject Categories

Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Industrial Engineering | Operational Research | Operations Research, Systems Engineering and Industrial Engineering


Air traffic loads have been on the rise over the last several decades and are expected to double, and possibly triple in some regions, over the coming decade. With the advent of larger aircraft and ever-increasing air traffic loads, aviation authorities are continually pressured to examine capacity expansions and to adopt better strategies for capacity utilization. However, this growth in air traffic volumes has not been accompanied by adequate capacity expansions in the air transport infrastructure. It is, therefore, predicted that flight delays costing multi-billion dollars will continue to negatively impact airline companies and consumers. In airport operations management, runways constitute a scarce resource and a key bottleneck that impacts system-wide capacity (Idris et al. 1999). Throughout the three essays that form this dissertation, enhanced optimization models and effective decomposition techniques are proposed for runway operations management, while taking into consideration safety and practical constraints that govern access to runways.

Essay One proposes a three-faceted approach for runway capacity management, based on the runway configuration, a chosen aircraft assignment/sequencing policy, and an aircraft separation standard as typically enforced by aviation authorities. With the objective of minimizing a fuel burn cost function, we propose optimization-based heuristics that are grounded in a classical mixed-integer programming formulation. By slightly altering the FCFS sequence, the proposed optimization-based heuristics not only preserve fairness among aircraft, but also consistently produce excellent (optimal or near optimal) solutions. Using real data and alternative runway settings, our computational study examines the transition from the (Old) Doha International Airport to the New Doha International Airport in light of our proposed optimization methodology.

Essay Two examines aircraft sequencing problems over multiple runways under mixed mode operations. To curtail the computational effort associated with classical mixed-integer formulations for aircraft sequencing problems, valid inequalities, pre-processing routines and symmetry-defeating hierarchical constraints are proposed. These enhancements yield computational savings over a base mixed-integer formulation when solved via branch-and-bound/cut techniques that are embedded in commercial optimization solvers such as CPLEX. To further enhance its computational tractability, the problem is alternatively reformulated as a set partitioning model (with a convexity constraint) that prompts the development of a specialized column generation approach. The latter is accelerated by incorporating several algorithmic features, including an interior point dual stabilization scheme (Rousseau et al. 2007), a complementary column generation routine (Ghoniem and Sherali, 2009), and a dynamic lower bounding feature. Empirical results using a set of computationally challenging simulated instances demonstrate the effectiveness and the relative merits of the strengthened mixed-integer formulation and the accelerated column generation approach.

Essay Three presents an effective dynamic programming algorithm for solving Elementary Shortest Path Problems with Resource Constraints (ESPPRC). This is particularly beneficial, because the ESPPRC structure arises in the column generation pricing sub-problem which, in turn, causes computational challenges as noted in Essay Two. Extending the work by Feillet et al. (2004), the proposed algorithm dynamically constructs optimal aircraft schedules based on the shortest path between operations while enforcing time-window restrictions and consecutive as well as nonconsecutive minimum separation times between aircraft. Using the aircraft separation standard by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), our computational study reports very promising results, whereby the proposed dynamic programming approach greatly outperforms the solution of the sub-problem as a mixed-integer programming formulation using commercial solvers such as CPLEX and paves the way for developing effective branch-and-price algorithms for multiple-runway aircraft sequencing problems.