Vista tactical model – Mercury: because passengers matter

Over the next decades, EU mobility is expected to progressively evolve from the gate-to-gate focus currently prevalent in the aviation and ATM industry towards a seamless and efficient door-to-door-orientated vision.  The paradigm shift from gate-to-gate (hence aircraft centered) to door-to-door (passenger-oriented) is present at virtually all strategic research documents and agendas. The paradigm shift is here to stay. From a passenger perspective, which of the following scenarios create more impact?:

  • Scenario A): a 8 minute delay in an aircraft arrival time with no connecting passengers
  • Scenario B): a 5 minute one that prevents a significant number of passengers doing a connection in that airport and subsequently expand their door-to-door trip in more than 10 hours

How can that impact be predicted in terms of time and cost? One of the very first research exercises was the POEM project (SESAR 1- WPE) etc. This project was the original seed of Mercury. Mercury has been afterwards improved, validated and completed in other reseach initiatives for SESAR and European Commission, reaching its current door-to-door status.

What is mercury?

Mercury is a modelling and simulator tool - a framework capable of measuring the performance of the air transport network. It provides a wide range of performance and mobility metrics, capable of describing in detail different air transport scenarios.

Mercury draws on extensive data, drawn from a wide range of industry sources, including airlines, airports and air navigation service providers. Mercury's data models have been demonstrated through over 5 years of research and development, plus industry consultation.

How passenger matter in mercury?

Mercury is the first air transportation network simulator that puts passengers in the centre. Each day of simulation the itineraries of more than 3 million passengers are reproduced. Each passenger has its individual profile, ticket and decisions to make. According to EU regulation 261/2004 passengers are compensated by delay and cancellations. Extended delays, aborted journeys, overnight stays there are all part of the Mercury simulator.

Of course airlines play a major role as well, Mercury incorporates costs models for canonical airline categories. Each of the airline decision of waiting for certain passengers, cancel a flight or even board the passengers and send a ready message even when a ATFCM slot was assigned is taken according to each airline rational cost model.

The secret ingedient: a spice of randomness

There is no way one could develop a simulator like Mercury taking into account every detail in the air transportation system. Some process are just too complex or simply put we do not understand yet. Whilst others are just exogenous factors far beyond the reach of the air transportation system. 

But what if we could use a different approach. In Mercury each day of operations is repeated, introducing small variations representing everyday uncertainty and exogenous factors.

Ultimately, small changes lead to completely different day of operations, delays and cancellations. Just similarly to what happens with some chaotic systems, the sensitivity to the initial conditions allow to explore overall trends and stable status, in some cases called emergence.

Interested in reading further info about Mercury? Click here to visit the website.

Author: Samuel Cristóbal (Innaxis)

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