Date of Award

Summer 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Management & Systems Engineering

Committee Director

Adrian Gheorghe

Committee Member

Patrick Hester

Committee Member

Ariel Pinto

Committee Member

Resit Unal

Committee Member

Barry Ezell


Since the emergence of commercial aviation in the early part of last century, economic forces have driven a steadily increasing demand for air transportation. Increasing density of aircraft operating in a finite volume of airspace is accompanied by a corresponding increase in the risk of collision, and in response to a growing number of incidents and accidents involving collisions between aircraft, governments worldwide have developed air traffic control systems and procedures to mitigate this risk. The objective of any collision risk management system is to project conflicts and provide operators with sufficient opportunity to recognize potential collisions and take necessary actions to avoid them. It is therefore the assertion of this research that the currency of collision risk management is time.

Future Air Traffic Management Systems are being designed around the foundational principle of four dimensional trajectory based operations, a method that replaces legacy first-come, first-served sequencing priorities with time-based reservations throughout the airspace system. This research will demonstrate that if aircraft are to be sequenced in four dimensions, they must also be separated in four dimensions.

In order to separate aircraft in four dimensions, time must emerge as the primary tool by which air traffic is managed. A functional relationship exists between the time-based performance of aircraft, the interval between aircraft scheduled to cross some three dimensional point in space, and the risk of collision. This research models that relationship and presents two key findings. First, a method is developed by which the ability of an aircraft to meet a required time of arrival may be expressed as a robust standard for both industry and operations. Second, a method by which airspace system capacity may be increased while maintaining an acceptable level of collision risk is presented and demonstrated for the purpose of formulating recommendations for procedures regulating air traffic management methods and industry standards governing performance requirements for avionics designed to support trajectory based operations.