Trials boost capacity by targeting arrivals

Managing the airports’ inbound flows through the TTA procedure is expected to allow seamless, balanced operations at the ATM network nodes (i.e. the airports), with positive effects on airport punctuality and efficiency of operations. Through implementation in a number of airports, the aim is to enhance predictability and flight efficiency at network level. Tomorrow will see the end of a series of real-life exercises at Palma de Mallorca to evaluate the benefits gained from managing reduced capacity on the basis of Target Time of Arrival (TTA) on selected flights.

Although regulations are meant to protect sectors from overload, they can disrupt the smooth and efficient management of aircraft turnaround.

There are two main reasons for this:

  • the actual flight is often not the same as the one in the flight planning used by the Network Manager;
  • the departure slot allocation, and so the arrival sequence, was not coordinated with the arrival airport operations’ planning.

In consequence, when planned traffic demand exceeds airport’s capacity, the regulation’s effectiveness is reduced. One possible option is to transfer the application of time constraints from departure to arrival.

Making use of anticipated arrival regulations on Saturdays at Palma airport, this new approach is being tested in a series of SESAR live trials, carried out in partnership with Palma de Mallorca Airport and AENA (Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegación Aérea), Air Berlin, Air Europa, Easy Jet, the Network Management Operational Centre (NMOC) and Eurocontrol’s Network Management and Airport R&D units.

The objective is to identify and quantify potential benefits in terms of predictability, flight efficiency and safety.

During the trial, the TTA of the selected flights are incorporated into the respective processes of the Network Manager, the airport and the airlines, and shared collaboratively. The airport arrival measure is then fine-tuned on the basis of impact analysis, jointly provided by the airport and the airlines. Everybody’s needs and constraints are taken into consideration: NMOC (network constraints), the airport (turnaround planning), the airline (business needs) and NMOC again where the TTA values are adjusted and allocated to the flight.

Prior to departure, or during the early stages of the airborne flight, the flight crew receives an electronic message containing the refined TTA information. They keep the ultimate responsibility to achieve their target within the TTA time window of +/- 3 minutes.

The trial has run every Saturday morning since 1 June and will finish on 29 June.

“The expected benefits are very promising. Introducing flexibility and input by local actors in traffic regulation measures would lead to an increase of predictability and will augment the effectiveness of those measures. More effective measures could help avoid additional airborne holding as well as waiting time on the ground,” said Eurocontrol.

Posted in Airlines, Airports, CAAs/ANSPs, News, SESAR

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