NATS, the U.K.'s air traffic control firm, is launching a new Air Traffic (AT) system that will reduce delays by 80,000 minutes per year, the group says.
Scheduled for operation by the spring of 2015 at Heathrow Airport, Time Based Separation (TBS) will be the new method of separating flights. Traditionally, controllers separate flights by set distances that are dependent on the type of aircraft and the size of the spiraling turbulence that is created when they fly, NATS says.
“The introduction of time based separation at Heathrow will be a world first and deliver major benefits for our customers — both Heathrow Airport and the airlines. It will reduce delays and cancellations while improving the airport’s resilience against disruption. That’s why we’ve accelerated the project to bring it into operational use in 2015," said Martin Rolfe, managing director of operations at NATS.
In studying over 100,000 flights using TBS, NATS determined that the procedure allows a more accurate measure of the behavior of aircraft in strong headwinds. Results show that under TBS, controllers can allow aircraft to be closer together on their final approach, which should help make better use of Heathrow's limited runway capacity.