The new specification can increase runway capacity by 5 percent at airports operating at or near maximum capacity, according to Eurocontrol.

Enhanced Time Based Separation Implemented at Heathrow

NATS announced that, working with Leidos and Heathrow Airport, it has launched the world's first fully systemized Optimized Runway Delivery tool. It will improve punctuality at the UK's busiest airport.

NATS, the UK's leading provider of air traffic management services, announced March 27 that, working with Leidos and Heathrow Airport, it has launched the world's first fully systemized Optimized Runway Delivery tool at the airport. The tool, known as enhanced Time Based Separation (eTBS), uses the latest European Wake Vortex Reclassification (RECAT-EU) both for arrivals and departures and will improve punctuality at the UK's busiest airport.

Developed by Eurocontrol, RECAT-EU is a more precise categorization of aircraft than the traditional ICAO one. It aims at safely increasing airport capacity by redefining wake turbulence categories and their associated separation minima, dividing the current Heavy and Medium categories into two sub-categories and creating a new Super Heavy one for the Airbus A380. Its use could significantly reduce airport delays.

eTBS provides air traffic controllers with separation indications to the runway threshold based on RECAT-EU plus Optimized Runway Delivery, which models the compression between aircraft pairs as they slow down to their landing speed. The tools also gives controllers runway occupancy indications for pairs of arriving aircraft when that is more limiting than wake separation, according to NATS, which reported air traffic controllers in NATS' Swanwick control center and Heathrow Airport control tower started using eTBS on March 16. The organization predicts the combination of RECAT and eTBS will increase tactical capacity at the airport by at least one arrival and one departure per hour.

"This enhanced version of TBS is a cornerstone of our new Intelligent Approach air traffic control IT suite, jointly developed by NATS and Leidos. It builds on the success of TBS, which was first introduced for Heathrow in March 2015," said Juliet Kennedy, NATS Operations director. "We are confident eTBS will increasingly enable faster recovery from adverse weather conditions, reduce overall delay, and help mitigate the increasing use of heavier aircraft types."

Alison Bates, head of Service Transformation & Performance at Heathrow Airport Limited, said, "eTBS has been a joint program between Heathrow Airport and NATS and is a great example of the benefit of airport and air traffic control working together. It will help meet Heathrow's flight punctuality goals – bringing noticeable benefits to the airport, airlines, and passengers alike."

Leidos air traffic control systems are used in Air Navigation Service Provider facilities that control more than 60 percent of the world's air traffic.

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