Ph.D. Defense: Samantha Corrado

Tue Nov 23 2021 09:00 AM
CoVE and BlueJeans

Ph.D. Defense


Samantha Corrado

(Advisor: Prof. Dimitri Mavris)


A Data-Driven Methodology to Analyze Air Traffic Management System Operations within the Terminal Airspace”


Tuesday, November 23
9:00 a.m. EST
Collaborative Visualization Environment (CoVE)
Weber Space Science and Technology Building (SST II)


Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems are the systems responsible for managing the operations of all aircraft within an airspace. In the past two decades, global modernization efforts have been underway to increase ATM system capacity and efficiency, while maintaining safety. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of both flight-level and airspace-level operations enables ATM system operators, planners, and decision-makers to make better-informed and more robust decisions related to the implementation of future operational concepts. The increased availability of operational data, including widely-accessible ADS-B trajectory data, and advances in modern machine learning techniques provide the basis for offline data-driven methods to be applied to analyze ATM system operations. Further, analysis of ATM system operations of arriving aircraft within the terminal airspace has the highest potential to impact safety, capacity, and efficiency levels due to the highest rate of accidents and incidents occurring during the arrival flight phases. Therefore, motivating this research is the question of how offline data-driven methods may be applied to ADS-B trajectory data to analyze ATM system operations at both the flight and airspace levels for arriving aircraft within the terminal airspace to extract novel insights relevant to ATM system operators, planners, and decision-makers.

An offline data-driven methodology to analyze ATM system operations is proposed involving the following three steps: (i) Air Traffic Flow Identification, (ii) Anomaly Detection, and (iii) Airspace-Level Analysis. The proposed methodology is implemented considering ADS-B trajectory data that was extracted, cleaned, processed, and augmented for aircraft arriving at San Francisco International Airport (KSFO) during the full year of 2019 as well as the corresponding extracted and processed ASOS weather data. The Air Traffic Flow Identification step contributes a method to more reliably identify air traffic flows for arriving aircraft trajectories through a novel implementation of the HDBSCAN clustering algorithm with a weighted Euclidean distance function. The Anomaly Detection step contributes the novel distinction between spatial and energy anomalies in ADS-B trajectory data and provides key insights into the relationship between the two types of anomalies. Spatial anomalies are detected leveraging the aforementioned air traffic flow identification method, whereas energy anomalies are detected leveraging the DBSCAN clustering algorithm. Finally, the Airspace-Level Analysis step contributes a novel method to identify operational patterns and characterize operational states of aircraft arriving within the terminal airspace during specified time intervals leveraging the UMAP dimensionality reduction technique and DBSCAN clustering algorithm. Additionally, the ability to predict, in advance, a time interval’s operational pattern using metrics derived from the ASOS weather data as input and training a gradient-boosted decision tree (XGBoost) algorithm is provided.



  • Prof. Dimitri Marvis – School of Aerospace Engineering (advisor)
  • Prof. Daniel Schrage – School of Aerospace Engineering
  • Prof. Graeme Kennedy – School of Aerospace Engineering
  • Dr. Tejas Puranik – School of Aerospace Engineering
  • Dr. Xavier Olive – ONERA, the French Aerospace Lab


CoVE and BlueJeans