SESAR project shows how aircraft separation methods can increase runway capacity

Jan. 23, 2018

SESAR members and partners recently completed tests of a runway delivery tool for optimising aircraft separation on final approach. The aim is to enable congested airports to maximise their runway throughput.

The simulation was carried out by Eurocontrol and AustroControl (COOPANS). Representatives from the IAA, NATS, DSNA, Thales, NAVIAR, LFV, Croatia Control and DFS also participated in briefings to observe the exercises.

The simulation combined time-based separation (TBS) - a SESAR solution that replaces current distance separations with time intervals - with RECAT pairwise wake separations under mixed mode runway operations.

Wake re-categorisation standards, “RECAT-EU-Pairwise Separations”, which define separation minima for pairs of aircraft, and which can be used with TBS, are expected to be agreed by EASA in 2018.

The simulations validated controller working methods, ensuring safety while also delivering runway throughput capacity and resilience for both arrival and departure traffic flows. It is expected that the solution will result in runway throughput benefits ranging between 8 and 15% depending on specific airport configurations, traffic mix and different operational and meteorological conditions.

The simulation is part of the SESAR 2020 Research Project “Increased Runway and Airport Throughput” (EARTH). Managed by Eurocontrol and funded within the framework of the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, the project addresses the challenge faced by airports that are reaching saturation to find ways to safely maximise their runway capacity.