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Funding Awarded To Develop a Simulation Tool For Airside Operations Incorporating Intelligent/Autonomous Taxiing

24 May 2019

Two Queen Mary researchers have been awarded further funding to develop a simulation tool to quantify the savings of fuel burn and time of taxiing aircraft by integrating more advanced and automated decision support systems.
Dr Jun Chen and Dr Michal Weiszer, from the School of Engineering and Materials Science, was awarded the £60,068 grant through the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) and AVISU Ltd. for Innovation Acceleration.
The future aviation market will operate very differently with step changes in technology, automation and consumer behaviour. The Department of Business, through the Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK, is investing £8 million in the first of a series of Collaborative R&D calls. Autonomous technologies, including Single Crew Operations (e.g. autonomous taxiing) and Smart/Connected/Efficient Sub-systems, are among the core topics.
To establish these emerging technologies in the market place, it is pressing to demonstrate the safety and efficiency of their integration with existing traffic control through simulation, enabling the public, industry and government to make informed decisions on the emergence of automation.
In this project, Dr Chen and Dr Weiszer will develop such a tool to simulate airside operations, incorporating intelligent/autonomous taxiing and an in-house simulation platform previously developed with EPSRC funding ( and QMUL’s Flexible Innovation Starter Fund, to quantify the benefit compared to baseline scenarios.
Trajectory-based taxi operations provide routes to pilots as a series of spatial/temporal coordinates (latitude/longitude/altitude/time), underpinning intelligent taxiing and demonstrating potential reductions of up to 50% in both taxi time and fuel consumption.

Moving towards intelligent/autonomous taxiing

Dr Chen said: “I’m very pleased to be awarded the funding from the EPSRC IAA and AVISU Ltd. to develop this simulation tool. Trajectory-based traffic operations underpin end-to-end performance that is the international agreed objective driving the large-scale R&D programs including Europe’s SESAR, USA’s NextGen and the ICAO’s ABSU. The award allows us to extend a previously developed simulation platform to incorporate new operating concepts.”
Dr Weiszer said: “Some of the existing commercial simulation tools focus on airport operations. However, none of them supports emerging technologies. The lack of access to the source code make them difficult to include and evaluate new operating concepts. The award enables me to demonstrate the benefit of intelligent taxiing technologies previously developed in the TRANSIT project (EP/N029496/2) through simulation to the potential industrial collaborators.”
Mr Stephen OFlynn, Director of AVISU Ltd, said: “As part of AVISU’s delivered services to the Air Traffic Management industry, airports are looking for a more quantifiable justification linking integrated solution benefits to their procurement. Although integrated solution approaches bring advanced concepts that cross typical silos to improve the efficiency holistically, they can be difficult to comprehend particularly at the executive levels. The license of existing commercial simulation tools is prohibitively expensive to many stakeholders, preventing them from evaluating and adopting new operating concepts. We will close such a gap given the demand in the current market.”
EPSRC Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAAs) are strategic awards provided to institutions to support knowledge exchange (KE) and impact from their EPSRC funded research. The University holds an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) to promote wider and more effective engagement with the impact agenda.
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Updated by: Laura Crane-Brewer