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JAXA Aviation helps to create a safer and more prosperous society with aeronautics-related research and development activities.



Optimizing air traffic with smart flight technology

Smart Flight and Aircraft Equipment Technology Team
Next Generation Aeronautical Innovation Hub Center

JAXA’s smart flight technology research will provide solutions to accommodate increasing air traffic. Adriana is a member of the team at the Next Generation Aeronautical Innovation Hub Center and is in charge of research on optimal air traffic flow management.

Tell us about your work on smart flight technology.

To put it briefly, our research focuses on technologies which assist pilots and air traffic controllers in making decisions for sustainable aircraft operations in view of increasing air traffic. Air traffic is expected to double every 15 years, giving rise to problems such as a shortage of airport and airspace capacity, greater environmental impact, and an increase in aircraft accidents. We believe that the key is a two-sided approach, i.e. a solution including both onboard and ground-based technologies. I work on the ground-based technologies to optimize air traffic flow management.

The concept of this research is time management. In short, the idea is to manage traffic flow by speed adjustments without changing flight paths, instead of managing arrival times by path stretching, as we usually do now. This is referred as a “4D operation.” JAXA proposes “adaptive time management.” We aim at throughput increase while reducing fuel burn by applying operation control optimized for aircraft performance, weather conditions, and particular air traffic flow pattern. Simulations have shown that 4D operations can lead to a potential 4% fuel burn decrease.

Why did you choose aviation as your career?

My parents are both engineers, and when I was a child they often took me to air shows. At home, I would take apart all kinds of devices to see what was inside. I was good at math and science, so I went to a high school that focused on math and physics. I developed an interest in the aerospace field around that time. There weren’t many career choices that would allow me to pursue this interest. In fact, there aren’t many countries with an advanced aeronautical industry. After finishing high school, I decided to come to Japan thinking if things didn’t work out, I’ll just go somewhere else. Back then, I had no idea that I would end up working in Japan.

Do you ever get stuck in your research?

Yes, all the time. I often feel like I’m up against a wall. There are many cases when nothing I do will bring the research forward. At such times, I believe the only solution is to talk to someone. A new perspective is necessary to expand your view, and talking with someone often gives you the much needed hint to the solution you have been looking for.

What do you plan to work on next? Any future aspirations?

I’m interested in air traffic flow management of various aircraft. In the future, we will be seeing more types of aircraft such as flying cars, unmanned aircraft systems, and supersonic aircraft. Different aircraft require different control methods, but the smart flight time management concept that I talked about earlier can be applied to all, which is what makes it appealing. My priority for the time being is to realize this concept in practice.

Do you have any advice for those aspiring to join JAXA?

No matter how much you love research, you can’t do it 24 hours a day. In research, long hours do not necessarily mean better results. When you get tired, you become less efficient, and you may make mistakes. What’s important is to find the right balance between your work and personal life. JAXA is really supportive in that sense as it provides you with flexibility.

Also, you don’t necessarily have to be an aeronautics major to work at the Aviation Technology Directorate. Research benefits from diversity. I believe we are able to do truly valuable research when people with all kinds of background come together. Whether it’s math, physics, or any other subject, if you are good at something that sets you apart from others, and have even the slightest interest in aeronautics, I believe there’s a place for you at JAXA.

Interviewee: Adriana ANDREEVA-MORI, Researcher, Smart Flight and Aircraft Equipment Technology Team, Next Generation Aeronautical Innovation Hub Center

Born in Bulgaria in 1982, Adriana ANDREEVA-MORI holds B.Eng. (2007), M.Eng. (2009) and Ph.D. (2012) degrees in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the University of Tokyo. She joined JAXA in 2013. As a graduate student, her research was focused on optimal arrival aircraft sequencing for minimal fuel consumption. In JAXA, she has continued to work on optimal aircraft operations.

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