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Ten days in Istanbul…

I spent ten days in Istanbul from Jun 18th to Jun 27th and this was a vacation that I’m not likely to forget for a long time. And with the recent attack outside the US Consulate in Istanbul(actually Istiniye), I have a couple of lumps in my throat. That’s because I was at the consulate for three days and I saw, met and talked to some of those guards outside the consulate – I was there to get my visa stamped in order to get back into the US. And a few days later, a gun battle right there where people line up outside the consulate.

Istanbul (earlier Constantinople) straddles the Bosphorous which divides Europe from Asia and for ages been a thoroughfare for trade and culture. Thus, it is no accident that it had been coveted by several empires through the ages. What we call today – globalization et al, is another chapter of the same ol’ story in which Istanbul loomed as one of the players of a bygone era. So visiting Istanbul is like taking a pilgrimage into one of the grand narratives that we traverse – that of trade, of cultures, of peoples colliding, of empires formed and lost etc. As Istanbul is today, so will your favorite city be henceforth – what is to be, already was but we add new pages in our efforts – that is all. All I want to say is that it was beautiful.

I used to love flying – ever since I can remember, I wanted to fly, be a pilot of something or the other. I used to check the itinerary to see how many layovers we’d have traveling back and forth from Africa to India – so that I could "experience" the landings and take offs (As an aside, do you know that English is one of the impossible languages – when I was a kid, I always use to say take-offing instead of taking off because ’to land’ expands into ’landing’, ergo, ’take- off’ expands into ’take-offing’). Traveling to and from Istanbul, we flew Iberia which transits through Madrid and as we were sitting at the gate, I was just watching the jets line up one after the other. I calculated that at the Madrid airport, each jet waited on average 17 minutes before being cleared for take-off. That’s 17 minutes of fuel being burnt for nothing – in other words, WASTE. Now, as you can imagine, the Madrid airport was not really that busy. We flew back into JFK, landed pretty much without circling round and round, all around and round… but after touching down, waited over an hour before getting to the gate at JFK. The flight itself was a little less than 8 hours but the time on the ground was a full 1.5 hours. If you were/are at the short end of the stick of these multiple effects rippling around a busy airport such as JFK – it’s no wonder that flying is a royal pain these days.

Since most of my current work is in semiconductor scheduling these days, I was piqued by these delays. I can almost readily see that transferring/translating my work into airport scheduling and taxiing – it’s pretty much some of the same stuff. So, I looked up similar researchers working on this problem:

An optimisation model for Airport Taxi Scheduling

Airport Surface Movement Optimization (MIT)

And some work that is in progress in the real world:

Surface Movement Advisor

As people around the world fly more, the numbers of flights multiply and airplanes become larger, these problems are going to increase in their magnitude and effects. So here’s hoping for better flying days ahead.

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Category: Optimization, Personal Observations

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2 Responses

  1. kurye says:

    thank you very muchhh

  2. estetik says:

    perfect article

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