Systemic propagation of delays in the air-transportation network

Fleurquin, Pablo, (Supervisors: Eguiluz, VM and Ramasco, JJ)
PhD Thesis (2016)

Thesis defended March 11, 2016 at 11:30 AM .

The focus of this dissertation is to quantitative describe, analyze and model
a paradigmatic socio-technical complex system such as the air-transportation
system. The generation, propagation and eventual amplification of flight delays
involve a large number of interacting mechanisms. Such mechanisms can
be classified as internal or external to the air traffic system. The basic internal
mechanisms include aircraft rotations (the different flight legs that comprise an
aircraft itinerary), airport operations, passengers’ connections and crew rotation.
In addition, external factors, such as weather perturbations or security threats,
disturb the system performance and contribute to a high level of system-wide
congestion. Although this socio-technical system is driven by human decisions,
the intricacy of the interactions between all these elements calls for an analysis
of flight delays under the scope of Complex Systems theory. Complexity
is concerned with the emergence of collective behavior from the microscopic
interaction of the system elements. Several tools have been developed to tackle
complexity. Here we use Complex Networks theory and take a system-wide
perspective to broaden the understanding of delay propagation.

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