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Tokyo-Haneda, one of the world’s busiest airports, set to implement Point Merge, EUROCONTROL’s innovative method for sequencing arrival flows

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Japan airlines plane crossing the runway of Tokyo International Airport

Point Merge providing a better view
of arrival sequences for controllers while helping pilot situational awareness.

Later this month, Point Merge, an innovative method for sequencing arrival flows developed by the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre, will be implemented by Tokyo Haneda, the world’s 5th busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic in 2018 with 87.1 million passengers according to Airports Council International*.

Haneda becomes the 18th airport to join the ‘Point Merge Club’ and taking advantage of the benefits Point Merge provides in terms of safety, controller’s workload, and capacity (in terminal sectors), even under high traffic. Crucially, Point Merge is also good for the environment. By ensuring more orderly traffic flows especially at times of high traffic load, Point Merge has the potential to optimise descents from the TMA entry, supporting CDO (continuous descent operations) and reducing noise and fuel burn as a result.

Today’s situation with radar vectoring makes for a heavy controller workload, a great deal of radio communication, diminution of pilot situational awareness, difficulty in predicting and improving vertical profiles and large dispersion at low altitudes. That is where Point Merge helps: it aids controllers by simplifying tasks, providing a better view of arrival sequences, and reducing communications and workload; while for pilots, Point Merge improves their situational awareness.

Point Merge has now been deployed on four continents, and the list keeps on growing. First deployed in Oslo (2011) and Dublin (2012), the new method quickly achieved an international outreach, not only within the ECAC area, but also far beyond its borders. It was put into operation at Seoul (2012), Paris ACC (2013), three Norwegian regional airports (2014), Kuala Lumpur (2014), Lagos (2014), Canary Islands (2014), Hannover (2014), Leipzig (2015) and London City and Biggin Hill (2016). More recent implementations include Bogota (2017), Saint Petersburg (2017), Jeju in South Korea (2017), IST-Sabiha Gökçen and the new Istanbul airport (2018). Further implementations are planned, for example, Lisbon (April 2020).

In parallel, research work continues in the context of the ‘dynamic TMA’ concept, where Point Merge is envisioned to support an agile response to variations in traffic demand (peak vs off peak) and environmental constraints (daytime vs night).