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Boarding process investigations using agent-based simulations

An efficient aircraft turnaround is an essential element for airlines to be competitive. In current short- to medium-haul operation, passenger boarding and disembarking are key processes of an aircraft turnaround and often on the critical path. This gets amplified with the recent trend towards denser aircraft cabins and larger aircraft types. Hence, new concepts for optimised passenger processes are required, such as door position permutations or seat layouts, which provide more space for passengers’ movements, especially during luggage stowing.

The in-house developed passenger flow simulation framework PAXelerate aims to identify reduction potentials for passenger processes through capturing the agent interactions and the resulting complex system behaviour. Each passenger is represented as an agent with individual properties, such as body dimensions, walking speed, target seat, or type of carry-on luggage.

First studies focusing on single- and twin-aisle aircraft revealed that a scenario using doors positioned at 1/4 and 3/4 of the cabin length could reduce the boarding time by up to 47 % for a single-aisle and up to 44 % for a twin-aisle configuration compared to a single door for passenger processes. Furthermore, the implementation of two different foldable seats concepts – lifting seat pan and sideways foldable seat – into single-aisle configurations enables efficiency gains between 28 % and 47 %, depending on the doors used. Building upon these results, an evaluation of the operational integration into current operations and existing airline fleets based on a direct operating cost will be feasible.

  • Mode of operation for the lifting seat pan and the sideways foldable seat concept: Cabin processes with lifting seat pan (left) and sideways foldable seat (right) in a six-abreast arrangement with folded and unfolded seatsMode of operation for the lifting seat pan and the sideways foldable seat concept: Cabin processes with lifting seat pan (left) and sideways foldable seat (right) in a six-abreast arrangement with folded and unfolded seats
  • Impact of foldable seats on the boarding time: Boarding performance for single-aisle aircraft with lifting seat pan (LSP) and sideways foldable seat (SFS) compared to conventional seats under the consideration of hand luggageImpact of foldable seats on the boarding time: Boarding performance for single-aisle aircraft with lifting seat pan (LSP) and sideways foldable seat (SFS) compared to conventional seats under the consideration of hand luggage