Everyone experience long lines at airports: at the check-in counter, the departure gate, and in boarding a booked flight, but even after we are already buckled in our seats, the waiting may continue — when a plane leaves the gate, the queus continue for the airplane before departure and  after our queues theory class, I wonder if the theory can be apply to the runway queues.

After searching I found about a queuing model developed by MIT that predicts how long a plane will wait before takeoff, given weather conditions, runway traffic, and incoming and outgoing flight schedules. The model may help air traffic controllers direct departures more efficiently, minimizing runway congestion. For example, if a controller knows that a plane is unlikely to take off for half an hour, he may choose to keep the plane at the gate to avoid contributing to runway backups.

Queuing theory include several characteristics like arrival pattern of customers, service patter of servers, queue discipline, system capacity, number of service channels and number of service stages.

The conclusion of the class was that queus grow due to variability and not disappear due to utilization, analyzing the runway queues we can see that almost all characteristics can be control. For example, arrival pattern of customers, in this case airplanes can be control when are they supposed to depart, the queue discipline its also control, the number of service channels it’s the only characteristic that cannot be modified in a short period, the departure runway are usually one or two for all the planes, and they have to manage to organize all the departure and landing towards the airport runway capacity.

Although, the queuing theory can be applied to this case, in my opinion this queue is much more complex not only the departure but the air traffic queues, there have been many accidents because of human error in the control towers and one error can cause possible deaths. Even though it would be interesting to know how exactly they manage such complex air traffic and queues control of the airports…


Maybe we can have visit the airport control tower? 😛


MIT Model –>


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