The aim of this project is the investigation of radically new airspace design concepts for scenarios which, when compared to today, are extreme in terms of traffic density, complexity and constraints.
Extrapolating current developments in aerospace technology, it is considered likely that the following two new types of air vehicles will have arrived by the second half of this century:
- Personal air vehicles, used for door-to-door transport, controlled semi-automatically;
- Unmanned, autonomous flying cargo vehicles in different weight classes and sizes.
Considering the door-to-door aspect, even with inter-local trips, personal vehicles especially will cause congestion in and around cities. From the same door-to-door philosophy, it follows that the smallest cargo Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) will fly in high numbers and even within cities. This brings up a completely new challenge for Air Traffic Management (ATM): urban airspace design. The challenge is to provide a concept which can handle high volumes, many constraints and autonomous control for these vehicle types.
Apart from being prepared for this potential revolution in aerospace, there is a more fundamental, but still practical, question underlying this challenge. Research so far has shown that in today's en-route airspace, dispersing traffic over the airspace and reducing the structure, will reduce the number of potential conflicts and therefore increase both capacity and efficiency.
In the urban airspace scenarios, many envision that these extreme traffic densities will require a very well-defined and structured airspace. The question is: is this true? And if so, what will cause this reversal?
This project has two main goals:
- Explore options for future urban airspace design;
- Provide a better understanding of air traffic using extreme scenarios.
The knowledge gained through studying these radical scenarios for air transport will impact the airspace and traffic complexity.