[Avionics Today 01-07-2014] A trial to cut the amount of time aircraft spend circling in holding stacks at Heathrow Airport has started to reap rewards, according to a statement released by United Kingdom Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) NATS.
|Heathrow’s holding stacks – three shown here in orange – provide a continuous stream of arriving air traffic. Photo: NATS
As part of the U.K.-Ireland Functional Airspace Block (FAB) and in collaboration with FAB Eurocontrol (FABEC) and Heathrow Airport, the trial aims to cut average holding times by a quarter from the current eight-minute time. Since April 2014, NATS has recorded a reduction of up to one minute in holding times for those flights influenced by the trial, saving airlines around $1.5 million in fuel and 5,000 tons of CO2, as well as reducing noise for communities underneath the stacks.
The trial has seen controllers in the U.K., France, Ireland and the Netherlands working in partnership to slow aircraft down up to 350 miles away from London in order to minimize holding times on arrival. It is the first step of a broader strategy to reduce the amount of time aircraft spend holding at Heathrow.
“Taking 60 seconds out of holding for trial influenced aircraft may not seem a lot, but it is a significant achievement and equates to serious savings for our airline customers while proving that this kind of cross border cooperation can reap real benefits. The next steps involve us taking what we’ve learnt so far and improving and refining our procedures for even greater results,” said Martin Rolfe, NATS managing director of operations.