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New concepts show potential for up to 10% increase in airport capacity - and reduced noise

Staggered threshold approach procedures combined with new tools show potential for achieving an increase in airport capacity of up to 10% - as well as reducing noise. A recent validation carried out by EUROCONTROL and DSNA - supported by Thales - showed convincing results.

EUROCONTROL, together with SESAR partners, recently validated two new concepts to improve runway capacity and manage noise, based on Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport scenarios.

The first concept, static pairwise separation for departures, tackled increasing departure traffic, with optimised wake turbulence separation minima, and improved separation delivery.

The second concept, dual threshold, involved landing aircraft on closely-spaced dependent parallel runways, using staggered thresholds to help reduce wake separation minima and increase throughput.

For a major European airport like Paris Charles de Gaulle, the new concepts, combined with the tools, can deliver significant benefits for departure and arrival peak periods and can make for a 10% increase of runway capacity. They also bring an added benefit of improved predictability.

If the maturity and relevance of the concepts and their associated tools are confirmed, EUROCONTROL will incorporate them into its runway throughput package to drive runway performance improvements at European airports.

If you are interested in learning more, contact us at runway-package@eurocontrol.int.  

The background

The validated concepts are part of two SESAR solutions PJ02-01 - Wake turbulence separation optimization and PJ02-02 – Enhanced arrival procedures, which focus on improving runway and airport throughput, taking weather, wake vortices, the environment and noise into consideration. They look at different traffic levels, future aircraft capabilities and different airport configurations.

These solutions belong to the SESAR 2020 project PJ02 – EARTH – Increased runway and airport throughput that addresses capacity challenges at major airports. EUROCONTROL is leading the project, working with partners to develop operational solutions and advanced air traffic control (ATC) tools.

Learn more about SESAR 2020 project PJ02 – EARTH and related solutions

The validated concepts

The two concepts focus on airports that manage departures and arrivals on closely spaced dependent parallel runways; they are aimed at optimising wake turbulence separation minima and separation delivery.

Arrival aircraft

For arrival aircraft on parallel runways with staggered thresholds, a reduction of the wake separation minima can be achieved thanks to the height difference between the glideslopes. 

Heavy and super heavy aircraft are assigned to the lower glideslope on the runway operated in mixed mode with departures. Medium and light aircraft are assigned to the upper glideslope on the adjacent parallel runway with the staggered threshold, so avoiding the wakes generated by the Heavy/Super aircraft. 

To manage the complex pairwise arrival separations, approach and tower controllers use a tool for Optimised runway delivery (ORD), which displays separation indicators on final approach segments, so helping controllers to deliver safe, efficiently reduced separation minima.

Expected benefits are twofold. Firstly, the aircraft noise footprint can be moved closer to the airport area for aircraft flying on the upper glide, reducing noise impact on the population in the approach area. Secondly, an increase in capacity throughput of up to 10% can be achieved as separation minima can be reduced for some aircraft pairs. 

Departing aircraft

For departures, air traffic controllers use a dynamic departure indicator (DDI) tool to manage departures separations and applicable spacing constraints between outbound traffic in the terminal control area (TMA).  The tool computes distance and time-spacing indicators and helps the tower controller to accurately and safely deliver the required time or distance spacing minima between departing aircraft. 

The DDI tool is based on aircraft performance models of speed and climb profiles, calibrated on Radar and Mode-S tracks, and refined with machine-learning techniques. 

Results of the departure validation show that in using the decision support tool, air traffic controllers were able to safely reduce the time between departures, increasing departure throughput, with no under-spacing events. 

Further work will be undertaken to mature these concepts so as to underpin the development of safety, requirement and guidance material for inclusion in the EUROCONTROL runway throughput package by 2022.

Simulation at Charles De Gaulle
Learn more

Staggered threshold approach procedures

This videos illustrates how the project, PJ02 - EARTH, is increasing airport capacity by up to 10% and reducing noise. Watch it!