UCSC-SOE-11-24: Visual Analysis of Air Traffic Data

Georg Albrecht, Hak Tae Lee, Bassam Mussafar, and Alex Pang
08/24/2011 08:44 AM
Computer Science
Air travel plays a crucial role in the functioning of todays globalized world. There are over 300,000 flights within the United States every day. In the future, daily air traffic number of all varieties are expected to continue rising. In addition, there is increasing interest in integrating unmanned aerial vehicles, for both government and commercial interests, into the national airspace system (NAS). This large growth in aviation operations will only increase traffic within the already limited NAS, leading to higher congestion and less free airspace. In this paper, we present visual analysis tools to study the impact of policy changes on air traffic congestion. The tools support visualization of time-varying air traffic density over an area of interest using different time granularity. We use this visual analysis platform to investigate how changing the aircraft separation volume can reduce congestion while maintaining key safety requirements. The same tool can also be used as a decision aid for processing requests for unmanned aerial vehicle operations.