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Scale-Free Networks and Commercial Air Carrier Transportation in the United StatesNetwork science, or the art of describing system structure, may be useful for the analysis and control of large, complex systems. For example, networks exhibiting scale-free structure have been found to be particularly well suited to deal with environmental uncertainty and large demand growth. The National Airspace System may be, at least in part, a scalable network. In fact, the hub-and-spoke structure of the commercial segment of the NAS is an often-cited example of an existing scale-free network After reviewing the nature and attributes of scale-free networks, this assertion is put to the test: is commercial air carrier transportation in the United States well explained by this model? If so, are the positive attributes of these networks, e.g. those of efficiency, flexibility and robustness, fully realized, or could we effect substantial improvement? This paper first outlines attributes of various network types, then looks more closely at the common carrier air transportation network from perspectives of the traveler, the airlines, and Air Traffic Control (ATC). Network models are applied within each paradigm, including discussion of implied strengths and weaknesses of each model. Finally, known limitations of scalable networks are discussed. With an eye towards NAS operations, utilizing the strengths and avoiding the weaknesses of scale-free networks are addressed.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Conway, Sheila R.
(Old Dominion Univ. Hampton, VA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2004
Subject Category
Air Transportation And Safety
Meeting Information
24th International Congress of the Aeronautical Sciences
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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