A project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and led by University of Nottingham researchers is developing a new computerized approach to scheduling airport operations that is designed to reduce delays, speed up baggage handling, and decrease pollution. The project aims to computerize and coordinate the scheduling of take-offs, landings, gate assignments, and baggage handling. The end result will be a search engine capable of analyzing the billions of possible scheduling combinations to provide the controllers with the most efficient courses of action. Currently, these four areas are organized manually by staff members who make decisions based on observations, reports, and experience. The scheduling improvements will make flying easier for passengers and reduce pollution by minimizing the time planes spend on the ground with their engines running. The project will develop computational models for each of the four areas of operations and determine how to run those models in conjunction with each other. One of the critical issues is how long an airplane needs for preparation on the ground before it can take off. Preparation includes enough time for the safety briefing and warming the engines. Sending a plane to the runway before either of these steps has taken place will cause delays on the runway that could affect other flights.
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