A probabilistic model for aircraft in climb using monotonic functional gaussian process emulators


Ensuring vertical separation is a key means of maintaining safe separation between aircraft in congested airspace. Aircraft trajectories are modelled in the presence of significant epistemic uncertainty, leading to discrepancies between observed trajectories and the predictions of deterministic models, hampering the task of planning to ensure safe separation. In this paper a probabilistic model is presented, for the purpose of emulating the trajectories of aircraft in climb and bounding the uncertainty of the predicted trajectory. A monotonic, functional representation exploits the spatio-temporal correlations in the radar observations. Through the use of Gaussian Process Emulators, features that parameterise the climb are mapped directly to functional outputs, providing a fast approximation, while ensuring that the resulting trajectory is monotonic. The model was applied as a probabilistic digital twin for aircraft in climb and baselined against BADA, a deterministic model widely used in industry. When applied to an unseen test dataset, the probabilistic model was found to provide a mean prediction that was 21% more accurate, with a 34% sharper forecast.

Turing affiliated authors