Strategic Decision Support for Airport Capacity Planning

Project status

In progress

Start date: 01/01/16
End date: 06/30/17


Principal investigator:

About the research

Tens of billions of dollars are spent each year worldwide in airport infrastructure. Planners for congested airports need to explore different ways of using existing assets (gates, ramps, runways, taxiways, ground equipment) and  how best to expand their facilities. Planners for airports with idle capacity need to explore how they might reduce costs of operations--possibly by removing some assets from service or converting them to alternative use. In both settings, there is need for strategic decision support.

In 2015, with support of Midwest Transportation Center funding, we completed the development and calibration of a discrete-event simulation model for this purpose. The model captures essential interactions of the spheres of “airside” activity at commercial airports. The model was validated and used to reveal cascading effects of delays at hub airports and to test the consequences of using runways differently (separating small and slower aircraft from large turbine aircraft).

With this project, we are continuing the development of the model to incorporate air freight service facilities with some extension to groundside operations of freight services (truck movements that interface with local traffic arteries). We will also apply the model to various planning scenarios to illustrate its value.



  • Lambert - St. Louis International Airport
  • Midwest Transportation Center
  • University of Missouri - Saint Louis