Air traffic controllers in the U.K. and Ireland have implemented a system that the National Air Traffic Agency (NATS) says “significantly reduces delays for aircraft and passengers traveling into London Heathrow.” The solution is an enhancement to the existing XMAN (cross-border arrival management) initiative that reduces the length of time that aircraft hold at the airport.
“With approximately 15% of all Heathrow arrivals traveling through Irish airspace, it was important to make it as easy as possible for Irish controllers to help manage traffic flows into Heathrow, and we have worked closely together through the U.K.-Ireland [functional airspace block] to achieve that,” says Pete Dawson, general manager of London Terminal Control at NATS. “This forms part of our longer-term strategy to minimize the use of holding stacks at Heathrow and shows the importance both parties place on cross-border collaboration to improve the service offered to customers.”
Less time spent holding means less fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. NATS and the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) have been working together on XMAN, alongside air navigation service providers in the Netherlands and France. New air traffic management system capabilities can deliver information on delays at Heathrow director to radar screens in IAA’s Shannon en-route control center. Delays can be minimized by reducing aircraft speed in the cruise phase.