Statistical characterization of deviations from planned flight trajectories in air traffic management

Rosario Nunzio Mantegna, Christian Bongiorno, Salvatore Micciche', Gérald Gurtner, Fabrizio Lillo, Rosario N. Mantegna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the relation between planned and realized flight trajectories and the determinants of flight deviations is of great importance in air traffic management. In this paper we perform an in-depth investigation of the statistical properties of planned and realized air traffic on the German airspace during a 28 day periods, corresponding to an AIRAC cycle. We find that realized trajectories are on average shorter than planned ones and this effect is stronger during night-time than day-time. Flights are more frequently deviated close to the departure airport and at a relatively large angle-to-destination. Moreover, the probability of a deviation is higher in low traffic phases. All these evidences indicate that deviations are mostly used by controllers to give directs to flights when traffic conditions allow it. Finally we introduce a new metric, termed di-fork, which is able to characterize navigation points ac- cording to the likelihood that a deviation occurs there. Di-fork allows to identify in a statistically rigorous way navigation point pairs where deviations are more (less) frequent than expected under a null hy- pothesis of randomness that takes into account the heterogeneity of the navigation points. Such pairs can therefore be seen as sources of flexibility (stability) of controllers traffic management while conjugating safety and efficiency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-163
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Air Transport Management
Publication statusPublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Transportation
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Law


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