An innovative approach for integrated airline network and aircraft family optimization
The determination of optimal aerial transport networks and their associated flight frequencies is crucial for the strategic planning of airlines, as well as for carrying out market research, to establish target markets, and for aircraft and crew rostering. In addition, optimum airplane types for the selected networks are crucial to improve revenue and to provide reduced operating costs. The present study proposes an innovative approach to determine the optimal aerial transport network simultaneously with the determination of the optimum fleet for that network, composed of three types of airplanes (network and vehicle integrated design). The network profit is maximized. The passenger’s demands between the airports are determined via a gravitational model. An embedded linear programming solution is responsible for obtaining potential optimal network configurations. The optimum fleet combination is determined from a database of candidate aircraft designs via genetic algorithm. A truly realistic airplane representation is made possible thanks to accurate surrogate models for engine and aerodynamics is adopted. An accurate engine deck encompassing a compression map and an innovative engine weight calculation besides an aerodynamical artificial neural network module enable a high degree of accuracy for the mission analysis. The proposed methodology is applied to obtain the optimum network comprised of twenty main Brazilian airports and corresponding fleet.