Stell, Laurel and Bronsvoort, Jesper and McDonald, Greg
Regression analysis of top of descent location for idle-thrust descents.
In: "Tenth USA/Europe Air Traffic Management Research and Development Seminar (ATM2013)", 10/06/2013 - 13/06/2013, Chicago, IL, USA. pp..
In this paper, multiple regression analysis is used to
model the top of descent (TOD) location of user-preferred descent trajectories computed by the flight management system (FMS) on over 1000 commercial flights into Melbourne, Australia. In addition to recording TOD, the cruise altitude, final altitude, cruise Mach, descent speed, wind, and engine type were also identified for use as the independent variables in the regression analysis.
Both first-order and second-order models are considered, where cross-validation, hypothesis testing, and additional analysis are used to compare models. This identifies the models that should give the smallest errors if used to predict TOD location for new data in the future. A model that is linear in TOD altitude, final altitude, descent speed, and wind gives an estimated standard deviation of 3.9 nmi for TOD location given the trajectory parame-
ters, which means about 80% of predictions would have error less than 5 nmi in absolute value. This accuracy is better than demonstrated by other ground automation predictions using kinetic models. Furthermore, this approach would enable online learning of the model. Additional data or further knowledge of algorithms is necessary to conclude definitively that no second-order terms are appropriate. Possible applications of the linear model are described, including enabling arriving aircraft to fly optimized descents computed by the FMS even in congested airspace.