• SJU reference # PJ.01-W2-08B /Release 10
  • Stakeholders
  • Benefits Environment
    Operational efficiency
  • Status In the pipeline


Adopting continuous descent approaches in place of conventional stepped approach paths helps to reduce fuel consumption during arrival phases of flight. As part of the candidate solution, SESAR 2020 is investigating six threads to improve optimised descent operations in very-high/high/medium density/complexity environments:

This solution will be developed around six threads of research, focusing on:

B1 - Descent phase support

Arrival management streaming is used for optimisation of systemised airspace, controlling the entry time of arrivals into the systemised extended TMA (E-TMA) for deconfliction and delay absorption purposes. Traffic is managed in real time, taking advantage of predicted demand information provided by arrival management systems and making use of additional trajectory data from the XMAN horizon. The new prototype of a streaming AMAN aims to identify and resolve complex interacting aircraft trajectories on a single or merging flows through the E-TMA down to the runway, through the use of multiple AMAN target times. The thread will explore the use of ADS-B data supplemented with extended Mode-S speeds as an alternative to the often insufficiently accurate enhanced tactical flow management system (ETFMS) data, provided by the Network Manager that was used in the first iterations of the system.

B2 - Seamless optimised descent profiles through enhanced ground to air sharing

Efficiency of descents is increased through improved sharing of aircraft intentions and predictions with the ground, and the use of this information by the ground to better take into account the aircraft’s optimal profile. Improved awareness by the flight crew of the ATC intentions should also be used to optimise the profile (low level-off or re-cruise, vertical speed adaptation, average vertical speed, energy management profile etc.) while complying with ATC separation and sequencing needs. Although the concept aims at letting the aircraft fly closed routes as often as possible there will still remain the need to use vectoring: the new operating method also takes advantage of air/ground information sharing possibilities to improve the management and efficiency of the flight in those situations, for instance through permanent closed path computation on board.

B3 - Dynamic route structures for arrival synchronisation

This thread started investigating the dynamic deployment of route structures as a way to provide an agile response to variations in traffic demand throughout the day. For example, during periods of lower traffic demand the route structure may be adapted such that more predictable and more fuel and environmentally efficient operations are possible with a reduced, but still acceptable airspace capacity. In some environments, strategic separation between arrival and departure flows can also be improved by the solution.

B4 - Traffic optimisation within the TMA

Arrival and Departure Management information is used to manage the traffic in a systemised airspace TMA/E-TMA across primary and alternative (offload) routes to reduce route and stack over demand. The prototype SYSMAN tool works in near real time to calculate periods of peak demand on particular routes and gives recommendations of offload options to avoid high workload bunching on those routes.

B5: Opportunities for reduction of airborne times induced by arrival management

This thread of work is investigating the potential for reduction of additional airborne times induced by arrival management. The study aims to maximise environmental benefits through reduced airborne times and will investigate different options, notably the concept of target time of arrival.

B6: Vertical guidance mode to support optimised profile climbs

Interacting arrival and departure flows will be optimised with a new vertical guidance mode supporting ‘profile climbs’ which will comply with the accuracy requirements of 3D departure tubes. A profile climb is then defined by a defined climb gradient/angle or a number of successive segments with defined climb gradients/angles, associated vertical navigation performance requirements and a defined speed profile along the 3D departure tube.


Improved environmental efficiency through optimised descent profiles

Reduced low-level holding

Improved flight efficiency