PhD Position Fuel Optimisation with Explainable ML

PhD Position Fuel Optimisation with Explainable ML

Published Deadline Location
2 Apr 30 Apr Delft

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Unlock the Future of Aviation: Redefining Fuel Estimation through Innovation and Collaboration.

Job description

In this Ph.D. position, the calculation of trip fuel takes center stage, holding the power to safely guide aircraft to their destinations. Yet, the task of estimating fuel amounts is not an easy one. It involves many variables, including weather conditions, airport congestion, hold-on duration, and aircraft performance. The existing estimation models fall short of accurately assessing the impact of these factors, often leading to excess fuel, unnecessary costs for airlines, and higher CO2 emissions.

Your mission as a PhD candidate is to innovate the industry by developing autonomous tools that enhance fuel estimation, helping airlines reduce costs and their environmental footprint. The PhD candidate shall focus on state-of-the-art machine learning techniques, that can find patterns within vast amounts of data, to refine the estimation of flight trajectories and fuel consumption. Additionally, you will explore various data sources, meticulously analyzing their significance in achieving precise estimations.

Furthermore, we understand the importance of transparency and explainability for the decision-making process. By addressing the black-box nature of machine learning models, you will bring clarity and predictability to your models. Trust will be earned as you evaluate the robustness of your models in different scenarios, identifying key environmental variations that influence the final estimation. By creating an intuitive graphical representation, you will empower airline operators and pilots with the insight needed to make informed decisions.

This PhD position is a collaborative endeavor between TU Delft and KLM Operations Control Center. As part of this partnership, you will have the unique opportunity to apply modelling skills, logistics and aviation knowledge to conduct impactful research. Working closely with a team of experienced professionals, including problem owners and researchers, you will be immersed in a practical setting that inspires innovation.

You will be based primarily within the dynamic and growing Air Transport & Operations team, surrounded by motivated academics, driven PhD students, and experienced postdocs. This open-minded, friendly, and collaborative community will provide the necessary support and guidance to develop your research project and establish yourself as a recognized researcher in your field.

Additionally, it is expected that you will spend some days per week at Schiphol Airport, working alongside several units at KLM Flight Operations, including their operational experts and software team. This immersive experience will further deepen your understanding of the industry and amplify your potential to make a lasting impact and to develop breakthrough research. 


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


You will spend some days per week at Schiphol Airport, working alongside several units at KLM Flight Operations, including their operational experts and software team.

Furthermore, the position also has the following requirements:

  • European nationality is required.
  • A good proficiency in the English language (spoken and written) is required.
  • You hold an MSc in aerospace or similar.
  • You have an interest in artificial intelligence/machine learning applications.

• You want to bridge the gap between research and industrial applications.

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

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

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 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
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD05219


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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