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Empirical Analysis of Airport Capacity Enhancement Impacts



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Empirical Analysis of Airport Capacity Enhancement Impacts A Case Study of DFW Airport Mark Hansen Institute of Transportation Studies National Center of Excellence in Aviation Operations Research University of California Berkeley Berkeley California Ph 510 642 2880 Fax 510 642 1246 hansen ce berkeley edu Jacob Tsao Institute of Transportation Studies National Center of Excellence in Aviation Operations Research University of California Berkeley Berkeley California Ph 510 643 5635 Fax 510 642 1246 tsao euler berkeley edu Sheng Chen Alex Huang Institute of Transportation Studies National Center of Excellence in Aviation Operations Research University of California Berkeley Berkeley California Ph 510 642 5896 Fax 510 642 1246 schuang ce berkeley edu Wenbin Wei Institute of Transportation Studies National Center of Excellence in Aviation Operations Research University of California Berkeley Berkeley California Ph 510 643 2975 Fax 510 642 1246 wenbin ce berkeley edu July 1998 Word Count Word Count Abstract Text 2 Tables 8 Figures 250 4679 500 2000 7179 ABSTRACT This paper assesses the impact of a major expansion in airfield capacity at DallasFort Worth DFW airport In October 1996 a new runway was commissioned and the airspace was entirely reconfigured Our study of the benefits of the expansion is retrospective and based on empirical data and hence provides a useful check on predictive and model based studies Also it pays considerable attention to adaptations made by airlines Central questions in our research are whether operational impacts and airline adaptations can be observed in the DFW case and how to define metrics that may capture them We developed several new metrics and used them in conjunction with existing metrics to measure the impacts and adaptations We found that average effective travel time from the scheduled departure time to the actual arrival at DFW and hence the average delay did decrease after the capacity expansion but only under inclement weather conditions However no significant reductions in delay against schedule were observed The daily maximum rate of operations of American Airlines the dominant carrier at DFW increased Also major airlines operating at DFW collectively scheduled their daily operations with a higher concentration across the whole day than the earlier levels in 1996 Average passenger transfer time of American s flights at DFW improved but the improvement did not last long Overall it appears that the impacts and adaptations were more modest than expected perhaps as a result of confounding events The metrics and methodology are applicable to any such study about any other airport KEY WORDS Airports Airport Capacity Airport Capacity Enhancement Flight Delay Airline Scheduling Dallas Forth Worth Airport Hansen Tsao Huang and Wei 1 INTRODUCTION This paper assesses the impact of a major expansion in airfield capacity at DallasFort Worth DFW airport On October 1 1996 a new runway 35R 17L was commissioned Nine days later the airspace was entirely reconfigured and new procedures introduced These changes allowed triple and quadruple independent arrival streams under IFR and VFR conditions respectively Arrival capacities increased from 102 to 146 under VFR and from 66 to 108 under IFR 1 The need for and benefits of increased airport capacity have been the subject of extensive study both at the broad policy level and in the context of specific proposals to improve the National Airspace System Two features distinguish the work presented here from much of what has been done previously First our study is retrospective and based directly on empirical observation Understandably the preponderance of capacity delay studies endeavor to predict how proposed changes will affect system performance Such predictions are essential to inform investment decisions which are usually irreversible and often involve huge expenditures Predictive studies must however rely on simulation and modeling tools whose results are subject to a wide variety of errors Retrospective studies like the one presented here cannot directly inform decisions but can observe what actually happened in the aftermath of a NAS investment They therefore provide a useful check on predictive model based studies Second our analysis pays considerable attention to adaptations made by airlines as well as operational impacts Predictive analyses of NAS improvements generally ignore the impacts of the improvements on the demand for NAS services Yet economic logic 1 Hansen Tsao Huang and Wei suggests that when airport congestion is alleviated users will adjust their airport use in order to take advantage of the improved conditions Such changes may lead to additional benefits from capacity expansion but may also diminish the delay reduction benefits on which conventional studies focus Central questions in our research are whether airline adaptations can be observed in the DFW case and how to define metrics that may capture them The remainder of this paper is organized as follows In Section 2 background on the DFW expansion and on contemporaneous events that may also be reflected in our data is presented Section 3 considers the impact of the expansion on observed arrival throughput rates Section examines delay impacts and Section 5 investigates airline adaptations Conclusions are offered in Section 6 2 BACKGROUND The 1996 changes at DFW were initially conceived in the late 1980s through two interrelated planning efforts The DFW Airport Development Plan ADP 2 completed in 1991 succeeded the 1967 Master Plan under which the airport was originally built The ADP forecast 1 2 million aircraft operations in the year 2010 Without new runways average aircraft delays exceeding 20 minutes per operation were anticipated Two new runways the one on the east side of the airport that opened in 1996 as well as one on the west side scheduled to open in 2004 were proposed along with other airfield improvements The plan also called for a complete reconfiguration of the terminal area which has since been replaced with a more incremental approach 2 Hansen Tsao Huang and Wei The changes in the air traffic control system were developed in the DFW Metroplex Air Traffic System DMATS Plan 2 the product of an FAA task force established in 1987 The DMATS Plan focused on improving the ATC system throughout the Dallas terminal area which more than 100 airports and airfields in addition to DFW Major elements of the plan included expansion of


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