Aviation safety assessment using historical flight trajectory data

Xiaoge Zhang, Sankaran Mahadevan

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


A multi-fidelity deep learning-based model is developed in this paper to make predictions on the trajectory of an ongoing flight by learning from the patterns embodied in its historical trajectory data streamed from System Wide Information Management (SWIM) Flight Data Publication Service (SFDPS). The proposed method is illustrated with a four-step procedure. In the first step, a fast and scalable big data engine – Apache Spark – is leveraged to parse the massive raw flight tracking messages in XML format, filter flight position data, correlate flight tracking messages with the corresponding flight ID in an effective manner. In the second step, we build two individual deep learning models to predict the future state of flight trajectory from different perspectives. Specifically, a deep feedforward neural network (DNN) is trained to make one-step-ahead predictions on the latitude and longitude deviation between the actual flight trajectory and target flight trajectory. In parallel, a deep Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) neural network is trained to make longer-term predictions on the flight trajectory over multiple subsequent time instants. The prediction uncertainties in both deep learning models are characterized following a Bayesian approach. In the third step, LSTM prediction is corrected using the more accurate DNN prediction, thus achieving both accuracy and computational efficiency. Finally, the multi-fidelity approach is extended to multiple flights, then we use separation distance as a quantitative metric to measure the en-route safety between any two flights. Numerical examples are used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed methodology.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAIAA Aviation 2019 Forum
Place of PublicationDallas, Texas
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781624105890
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes
EventAIAA Aviation 2019 Forum - Dallas, United States
Duration: 17 Jun 201921 Jun 2019

Publication series

NameAIAA Aviation 2019 Forum


ConferenceAIAA Aviation 2019 Forum
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering


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