A project to assess the resilience of the UK aviation system has won funding from DAFNI, the UK’s Data & Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure

Cranfield researchers led by Dr Fabian Steinmann, lecturer in organisational resilience and change in the School of Management, will develop a computational model of the UK airport network and conduct simulations involving airport closures that result in mass diversions.

The team will use the model to identify potential bottlenecks during these events, building knowledge to assess the resilience of the UK aviation system and inform industry planning.

With passenger numbers in the UK expected to increase to 435 million a year by 2050, any disruption to airport operations has a serious knock-on effect. Airport closures can be caused by a number of issues, for instance security incidents – such as that at Birmingham Airport earlier this month – or environmental issues such as the extreme flooding seen in Dubai.

Dr Steinmann said: “The UK aviation system features some of the busiest airports and the infrastructure, both in the sky and on the ground, is congested.

“The temporary loss of an airport can lead to multiple diversions, adding significant stress to the system due to the lack of excess capacity at alternate airports.”

The Cranfield research results will give the aviation industry insight into how to manage any future disruptions.

He added: “Our project is aimed at providing valuable insights into the dynamics of mass diversion scenarios and providing useful data for managing future events.”

Dr Irene Moulitsas and Dr Desmond Bala Bisandu will work alongside Dr Steinmann on the Modelling Aviation Resilience Scenarios (MARS) project.

A British Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner at Heathrow
A British Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner at Heathrow London Heathrow Airport