Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

A Unified, Clustering-Based Framework for Detection of Spatial and Energy Anomalies in Trajectories Utilizing ADS-B Data

Version 1 : Received: 16 February 2021 / Approved: 17 February 2021 / Online: 17 February 2021 (14:05:25 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Journal reference: Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies 2021, 131
DOI: 10.1016/j.trc.2021.103331


As air traffic demand grows, robust, data-driven anomaly detection methods are required to ensure that aviation systems become safer and more efficient. The terminal airspace is identified as the most critical airspace for both individual flight-level and system-level safety and efficiency. As such, developing data-driven anomaly detection methods to analyze terminal airspace operations is paramount. With the expansion of ADS-B technology, open-source flight tracking data has become more readily available to enable larger-scale analyses of aircraft operations. This paper makes a distinction between spatial metrics in ADS-B trajectory data and energy metrics derived from ADS-B trajectory data. Motivated by the limited number of approaches that simultaneously consider both spatial and energy metrics, this paper introduces the concepts of spatial anomalies and energy anomalies. In particular, it proposes a novel, unified framework for detection of spatial and energy anomalies in ADS-B trajectory data (and associated derived metrics). The framework consists of three main parts - a data processing procedure, a spatial anomaly detection method, and an energy anomaly detection method. The framework is demonstrated utilizing four months of ADS-B trajectory data associated with arrivals at San Francisco International Airport, and the relationship between the spatial and energy anomalies in this terminal airspace is explored. The results that stem from the implementation of this framework indicate that if an aircraft is spatially not conforming to an identified set of air traffic flows representing standard spatial operations, then this aircraft is more likely to experience non-conformance to standard operations in its energy metrics. Aviation operators, such as air traffic controllers, may benefit from this observation, as it may factor into decision-making in instances where there is the potential to instruct an aircraft to spatially deviate from standard operations. Additionally, this research revealed underlying differences between trajectories that are spatially nominal yet energy-anomalous and those trajectories that are spatially anomalous and energy-anomalous. Focusing solely on energy anomaly detection does not provide insight into potential spatial-related decisions that may have been made to result in off-nominal energy behavior.


air transportation; machine learning; anomaly detection; ADS-B; clustering


ENGINEERING, Automotive Engineering

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