Improving Terminal Operations: Benefits of RNAV Departure Procedures at Dallas-Fort Worth and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airports

November 2007
Dr. Ralf H. Mayer, The MITRE Corporation
Kevin R. Sprong, The MITRE Corporation
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Incremental implementation of terminal Area Navigation (RNAV) procedures has yielded significant operational benefits at major U.S. airports. Key prerequisites of these benefits are the advanced flight automation systems that are available on the majority of today's commercial and corporate aircraft as well as the presently achievable conformance of flight operations to the RNAV route structures. Key implementation sites of RNAV procedures include Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (ATL) International airports. The RNAV Standard Instrument Departure (SID) procedures implemented at these airports have promised and delivered more efficient utilization of available runways and constrained departure airspace by enabling diverging departure operations. This paper investigates the RNAV route conformance currently observed in RNAV departure operations at DFW and ATL and reviews the mechanism that enables operational benefits. It describes the Monte Carlo modeling approach taken to evaluate operational changes, the methodology used to validate model performance with radar data, and presents estimates of departure capacity and delay reduction benefits. The results of the research suggest that capacity gains of about 10 additional departures per hour and runway are possible resulting in significant benefits to operators when RNAV procedure designs enable airports to conduct diverging departure operations. The paper also compares key performance metrics of the model to performance metrics obtained from extensive pre- and post-implementation operational evaluations. The evaluation results were found to confirm expected operational changes, validate user benefits resulting from diverging RNAV departure operations, and firmly support further terminal procedure implementation at other airports.

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