Augmented Air Traffic Control System—Artificial Intelligence as Digital Assistance System to Predict Air Traffic Conflicts

Philipp Ortner*, Raphael Steinhöfler, Erich Leitgeb, Holger Flühr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Today’s air traffic management (ATM) system evolves around the air traffic controllers and pilots. This human-centered design made air traffic remarkably safe in the past. However, with the increase in flights and the variety of aircraft using European airspace, it is reaching its limits. It poses significant problems such as congestion, deterioration of flight safety, greater costs, more delays, and higher emissions. Transforming the ATM into the “next generation” requires complex human-integrated systems that provide better abstraction of airspace and create situational awareness, as described in the literature for this problem. This paper makes the following contributions: (a) It outlines the complexity of the problem. (b) It introduces a digital assistance system to detect conflicts in air traffic by systematically analyzing aircraft surveillance data to provide air traffic controllers with better situational awareness. For this purpose, long short-term memory (LSTMs) networks, which are a popular version of recurrent neural networks (RNNs) are used to determine whether their temporal dynamic behavior is capable of reliably monitoring air traffic and classifying error patterns. (c) Large-scale, realistic air traffic models with several thousand flights containing air traffic conflicts are used to create a parameterized airspace abstraction to train several variations of LSTM networks. The applied networks are based on a 20–10–1 architecture while using leaky ReLU and sigmoid activation function. For the learning process, the binary cross-entropy loss function and the adaptive moment estimation (ADAM) optimizer are applied with different learning rates and batch sizes over ten epochs. (d) Numerical results and achievements by using LSTM networks to predict various weather events, cyberattacks, emergency situations and human factors are presented
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623–644
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • air space
  • air traffic management
  • air traffic control
  • air traffic conflicts
  • deep learning
  • Recurrent neural networks
  • long short-term memory

Fields of Expertise

  • Information, Communication & Computing


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