On maximizing safety in stochastic aircraft trajectory planning with uncertain thunderstorm development Articles uri icon

publication date

  • August 2018

start page

  • 543

end page

  • 553


  • 79

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1270-9638


  • Dealing with meteorological uncertainty poses a major challenge in air traffic management (ATM). Convective weather (commonly referred to as storms or thunderstorms) in particular represents a significant safety hazard that is responsible for one quarter of weather-related ATM delays in the US. With commercial air traffic on the rise and the risk of potentially critical capacity bottlenecks looming, it is vital that future trajectory planning tools are able to account for meteorological uncertainty. We propose an approach to model the uncertainty inherent to forecasts of convective weather regions using statistical analysis of state-of-the-art forecast data. The developed stochastic storm model is tailored for use in an optimal control algorithm that maximizes the probability of reaching a waypoint while avoiding hazardous storm regions. Both the aircraft and the thunderstorms are modeled stochastically. The performance of the approach is illustrated and validated through simulated case studies based on recent nowcast data and storm observations.


  • stochastic storm modeling; stochastic optimal control; aircraft trajectory planning