An efficient ant colony system based on receding horizon control for the aircraft arrival sequencing and scheduling problem

Zhi Hui Zhan*, Jun Zhang, Yun Li, Ou Liu, S. K. Kwok, W. H. Ip, Okyay Kaynak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Citations (Scopus)


The aircraft arrival sequencing and scheduling (ASS) problem is a salient problem in air traffic control (ATC), which proves to be nondeterministic polynomial (NP) hard. This paper formulates the ASS problem in the form of a permutation problem and proposes a new solution framework that makes the first attempt at using an ant colony system (ACS) algorithm based on the receding horizon control (RHC) to solve it. The resultant RHC-improved ACS algorithm for the ASS problem (termed the RHC-ACS-ASS algorithm) is robust, effective, and efficient, not only due to that the ACS algorithm has a strong global search ability and has been proven to be suitable for these kinds of NP-hard problems but also due to that the RHC technique can divide the problem with receding time windows to reduce the computational burden and enhance the solution's quality. The RHC-ACS-ASS algorithm is extensively tested on the cases from the literatures and the cases randomly generated. Comprehensive investigations are also made for the evaluation of the influences of ACS and RHC parameters on the performance of the algorithm. Moreover, the proposed algorithm is further enhanced by using a two-opt exchange heuristic local search. Experimental results verify that the proposed RHC-ACS-ASS algorithm generally outperforms ordinary ACS without using the RHC technique and genetic algorithms (GAs) in solving the ASS problems and offers high robustness, effectiveness, and efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5440937
Pages (from-to)399-412
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Air traffic control (ATC)
  • Ant colony system(ACS)
  • Arrival sequencing and scheduling (ASS)
  • Receding horizoncontrol (RHC)


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