PhD Postion in Automation of Airport Ground Operations

PhD Postion in Automation of Airport Ground Operations

Published Deadline Location
14 Aug 24 Sep Delft

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Challenge: Automating airport ground operations.
Change: Harnessing AI and automation to enable autonomous airport systems.
Impact: Climate-neutral air transport operations and optimised capacity management.

Job description

The aviation sector is investing in new infrastructures and technology to combat climate change. Electric and hydrogen-powered aircraft and ground vehicles are key enablers of the drive towards sustainable operations. Your unique challenge as a PhD student at TU Delft is to develop models and tools to enable the automation of airport ground operations, embracing the interaction with – not replacement of – ground controllers and other operators. Would you like to help airlines and airports optimise turnaround times and capacity management?

During the first two years, you will be involved in the EU SESAR funded ASTAIR project, which builds on the results of the Advanced Engine Off Navigation research project. During this first stage you will focus on engine-off aircraft taxiing. But your scope will widen to other airport ground operations, such as baggage handling. You will develop mathematical and computational models for autonomous management of all those systems and their movements. In your research your will also embrace the interaction with the people involved, like air traffic and ground controllers or baggage handlers, and incorporate their requirements. In addition, you will contribute to the reports that are the project deliverables. You will be working closely with international partners, like ENAC and Groupe ADP in France, Trondheim-based SINTEF, and Deep Blue in Italy.

You will, of course, be writing papers and attending conferences. In addition, you will supervise labs and coach master students during their graduation research under the flag of the Air Transport Operations group. Who are your fellow team members? We are an interdisciplinary and internationally diverse group of some 25 driven assistant and associate professors, lecturers, project managers, PhD students and postdocs. We share the ambition to develop models and tools in which we accumulate our expertise to enable future adaptive and sustainable air transport operations. Fostering an open, friendly and collaborative atmosphere in which people are approachable, we share knowledge, help each other and meet socially. And you will get all the support and training you need to evolve and grow as a researcher.

Learn more about Air Transport Operations


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


Accelerating the future of sustainable air transport operations. That’s the drive you share with us. You put your analytical skills to good use, creating mathematical models and translating them into algorithms and programs for autonomous airport systems. You work well both independently and in international, interdisciplinary teams, for which you harness your communication skills. And you enjoy coaching master students, while developing your own skills and competencies.

You also have:

  • An MSc in Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, Applied Mathematics or another relevant subject.
  • Good modelling and Python programming skills.
  • A good command of spoken and written English, as you’ll be working in an internationally diverse community.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.


Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Aerospace Engineering

The Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology is one of the world’s most highly ranked (and most comprehensive) research, education and innovation communities devoted entirely to aerospace engineering. More than 200 science staff, around 270 PhD candidates and close to 3000 BSc and MSc students apply aerospace engineering disciplines to address the global societal challenges that threaten us today, climate change without doubt being the most important. Our focal subjects: sustainable aerospace, big data and artificial intelligence, bio-inspired engineering and smart instruments and systems. Working at the faculty means working together. With partners in other faculties, knowledge institutes, governments and industry, both aerospace and non-aerospace. Working in field labs and innovation hubs on our university campus and beyond. 

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD03850


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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Mekelweg 2, 2628 CD, Delft

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