Analytical Model for Enhancing the Adoptability of Continuous Descent Approach at Airports

Emad A. Alharbi, Layek L. Abdel-Malek, R. John Milne, Arwa M. Wali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) is the flight technique for aircraft to continuously descend from cruise altitude with an idle thrust setting and without level-offs, contrary to the staircase-like Step-down Descent Approach (SDA). Important for air transportation sustainability, using CDA reduces noise, fuel consumption, and pollution. Nevertheless, CDA has been limited to low traffic levels at airports, often at night, because it requires more separation distance between aircraft arrivals and, thus, could decrease throughput. Insufficient attention has been given to helping air traffic controllers decide when CDA may be used. In this paper, we calculate the probability that an aircraft arriving during a particular brief period of time (e.g., 15 min) will need to revert to SDA when the controller tentatively plans to permit CDA for all aircrafts arriving during that time period. If this probability is low enough, the controller may plan to permit CDA during that time period. We utilize an analytical approach and queueing theory framework that considers factors such traffic and weather conditions to estimate the probability. We also provide the number of aircrafts that can be accommodated within the airport’s stacking space using CDA. This number provides insight into whether a particular aircraft may use CDA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1506
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Instrumentation
  • General Engineering
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


  • Air traffic management
  • Air transportation sustainability
  • Applied queueing theory
  • Climate change
  • Continuous descent approach
  • Environmental impact
  • Green transport
  • Optimized profile descent
  • Terminal maneuvering area


Dive into the research topics of 'Analytical Model for Enhancing the Adoptability of Continuous Descent Approach at Airports'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this