Conference Paper

System of Systems Engineering for the Airport Slot Allocation Problem

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Airport slot allocation is a combinatorial allocation problem (CAP) involving different complex and autonomous systems. Nowadays, the slots are allocated in a two-stage process: primary allocation is performed according to a set of administrative rules and for each airport independently, while secondary allocation is based on trading mechanisms. Several studies have raised inefficiencies in these processes. To enhance the airport slot allocation, this work proposes the study of the problem from a System of Systems Engineering approach (SoSE), both for the primary and secondary scenarios. Through the application of Auction Engineering and Experimental Economics, a set of market mechanisms is proposed to engineer these SoS. This paper presents their high-level formalisation, that will be implemented in future works and assessed according to a set of pre-established key performance indicators.

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While the phrase “system-of-systems” is commonly seen, there is less agreement on what they are, how they may be distinguished from “conventional” systems, or how their development differs from other systems. This paper proposes a definition, a limited taxonomy, and a basic set of architecting principles to assist in their design. As it turns out, the term system-of-systems is infelicitous for the taxonomic grouping. The grouping might be better termed “collaborative systems.” The paper also discusses the value of recognizing the classification in system design, and some of the problems induced by misclassification. One consequence of the classification is the identification of principal structuring heuristics for system-of-systems. Another is an understanding that, in most cases, the architecture of a system-of-systems is communications. The architecture is nonphysical, it is the set of standards that allow meaningful communication among the components. This is illustrated through existing and proposed systems. © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Syst Eng 1: 267–284, 1998
In this paper, we formalize the simultaneous slot allocation problem. It is an extension of the problem currently tackled for allocating airport slots: it deals with all airports simultaneously and it enforces the respect of airspace sector capacities. By solving this novel problem, the system may overcome some major inefficiencies that characterize the current slot allocation process. We tackle the simultaneous slot allocation problem with two algorithms based on metaheuristics, namely Iterated Local Search and Variable Neighborhood Search, and with an integer linear programming model: for each of these three algorithms, we allow a fixed computation time, and we take the best solution found during that time as the final solution. We compare these algorithms on randomly generated instances, and we show that, when small instances are to be tackled, metaheuristics are competitive with the exact model. When medium or large instances are to be tackled, the exact model suffers some major issues in terms of memory and computation time requirements. Metaheuristics, instead, can deal with very large instances, achieving very high quality results.
We propose a mechanism for solving the airport slot allocation problem in Europe. We consider the interdependence of the slots at different airports, and we maximize the efficiency of the system. Through an experimental analysis we quantitatively assess the cost imposed by grandfather rights, which constitute one of the main principles of the current slot allocation mechanism. Moreover, we introduce the possibility to fairly redistribute costs among airlines through monetary compensations. Our results suggest that it is possible to remove grandfather rights without significantly penalizing airlines.
The current allocation of slots in congested airports is fraught with deficiencies because of the liberalisation of air transportation undertaken all over the world. The existing grandfather rights rule is slowly being replaced with auctions. In the airport slot allocation problem, in order to effectively auction the slots, multiple-item auctions are employed. It is in this aspect that combinatorial auctions are employed, as they are the most efficacious in dealing with complimentarity. Since the existing mechanisms are more inclined towards maximising the auctioneer's profit – with the monetary issue being the only concern – they lead to biased allocations. Therefore, this paper develops a model and proposes a mechanism that could overcome the shortcomings of the existing auctioning procedures by incorporating the concepts of welfare issues with due consideration given to the flight capacity to effectively allot the slots.
This paper studies slot allocation at congested airports in Europe. First, I discuss the inefficiencies of the current regulation, introduced as part of the liberalisation process of the air transport market. Then, I consider three marked based methods which are suitable to achieve a more efficient allocation of slots to airlines: congestion pricing, auctions and secondary trading. These methods are examined in terms of their ability to improve efficiency and in terms of their implications on the distribution of slots’ scarcity rents. Special attention is drawn to complementarities between slots. Finally, I propose to auction slots periodically, allowing secondary trading well before the first auction takes place. By selling slots before the first auction incumbents can be partially compensated for the subsequent withdrawal of their slots.
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