PhD Position in AI-based Generative Modelling for Air Transport Operations

PhD Position in AI-based Generative Modelling for Air Transport Operations

Published Deadline Location
14 Aug 24 Sep Delft

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Challenge: Generating realistic synthetic data at a large scale to improve prediction and planning of air transport operations
Change: Applying and training generative models. 
Impact: Driving the efficiency of climate-neutral airline and airport operations.

Job description

The aviation sector is committed to combating climate change, and is investing in novel technologies, infrastructures, and autonomous systems. Data are key to predict, secure and optimise their operational performance. Yet when it comes to new concepts, such as electric or hydrogen-powered aircraft, the necessary volumes of reliable data are not available. As a PhD student at TU Delft, you will leverage AI and machine learning for generating realistic synthetic datasets related to airline and airport operations. Would you like to contribute to driving down turnaround times and flight delays, and help optimise the sector’s performance?

Initially, your research will be part of the EU SESAR funded SynthAIR project. You’ll be developing and training models to generate synthetic data from original data, for which you may use techniques based on diffusion models and generative adversarial networks. The synthetic data will be used to predict airline and airport performance, such as turnaround times and flight diversion, and manage passenger flows at new airports. As part of your role, you will write papers, attend conferences and contribute to the reports that are the project deliverables. Upon completion of this two-year project, you will be involved in other projects, which will build on the models and tools developed in SynthAIR. You may, for instance,  explore the direction of explainable AI or hybrid AI, combining data-driven and symbolic approaches to enhance prediction. You’ll be working closely with European partners, including Trondheim-based SINTEF and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Deep Blue in Italy and EUROCONTROL.

Joining our 25-strong interdisciplinary team of the Air Transport Operations group, you will also supervise labs and coach our master students during their graduation research. Your fellow team members are assistant and associate professors, lecturers, project managers, PhD students and postdocs with different nationalities. We share a drive to enable aviation operations of the future, harnessing our combined expertise to develop models and tools. Fostering an open and friendly environment, we are approachable and help each other, share knowledge, but also meet socially. And you will get whatever support and training you need to develop and grow as a researcher.

Learn more about Air Transport Operations


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


You thrive on conducting research geared to accelerating the future of aviation operations. Working in the field of data science, your analytical skills are well honed. To achieve meaningful results, you embrace interdisciplinary and international collaboration, for which you harness your communication skills. Yet you also know how to work independently. In addition, you are motivated to interact with and coach master students, while enhancing your own skills and competencies.

You also have:

  • An MSc in Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, Applied Mathematics or another relevant subject.
  • Good Python programming skills.
  • Knowledge of data science.
  • Experience with artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • 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
  • TUD03849


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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