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Chin. Phys. B, 2012, Vol. 21(8): 088901    DOI: 10.1088/1674-1056/21/8/088901

Fluctuations in airport arrival and departure traffic: A network analysis

Li Shan-Mei (李善梅)a, Xu Xiao-Hao (徐肖豪)b, Meng Ling-Hang (孟令航 )a
a School of Computer Science and Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China;
b College of Air Traffic Management, Civil Aviation University of China, Tianjin 300300, China
Abstract  Air traffic is a typical complex system, in which movements of traffic components (pilots, controllers, equipments, and environments), especially airport arrival and departure traffic, form complicated spatial and temporal dynamics. The fluctuations of airport arrival and departure traffic are studied from the point of view of networks as the special correlation between different airports. Our collected flow volume data on the time-dependent activity of US airport arrival and departure traffic indicate that the coupling between the average flux and the fluctuation on individual airport obeys a certain scaling law with a wide variety of scaling exponents between 1/2 and 1. These scaling phenomena can explain the interaction between the airport internal dynamics (e.g. queuing at airports, ground delay program, traffic following in flying) and change in the external (network-wide) traffic demand (e.g. the every day increase of traffic amount during peak hours), allowing us to further understand the mechanisms governing the transportation system collective behaviour. We separate the internal dynamics from the external fluctuations using scaling law which is helpful for us to systematically determine the origin of fluctuations in airport arrival and departure traffic, uncovering their collective dynamics. Hot spot features are observed in airport traffic data as the dynamical inhomogeneity in the fluxes of individual airports. The intrinsic characteristics of airport arrival and departure traffic under severe weather are discussed as well.
Keywords:  air traffic network      fluctuations      scaling law      hot spot  
Received:  27 December 2011      Revised:  06 January 2012      Accepted manuscript online: 
PACS:  89.75.-k (Complex systems)  
  89.75.Da (Systems obeying scaling laws)  
  05.40.-a (Fluctuation phenomena, random processes, noise, and Brownian motion)  
Fund: Project supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 61039001).
Corresponding Authors:  Li Shan-Mei     E-mail:

Cite this article: 

Li Shan-Mei (李善梅), Xu Xiao-Hao (徐肖豪), Meng Ling-Hang (孟令航 ) Fluctuations in airport arrival and departure traffic: A network analysis 2012 Chin. Phys. B 21 088901

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