Reduction of excess flight time on arrival

Reducing excess flight time on arrival is key to improving operational efficiency and aviation sustainability. In 2019, more than 33,000 hours of excess flight time in the terminal area above a 5-minute margin were recorded at terminal manoeuvring areas (TMAs) at Europe’s 27 major airports.

As part of a joint EUROCONTROL-NATS project, we are studying the opportunities for such a reduction within advanced traffic services (ATS). Initially, our study will look at a generic set of representative European airports, followed by a specific analysis in the London environment.


The driver is the potential to mitigate aviation’s environmental impact using the reduction of excess flight time as an essential indicator.

We will conduct extensive data analysis, using statistical and mathematical modelling and EUROCONTROL’s in-house computing capabilities. This project seeks to answer the following key questions:

  • Could we reduce excess flight time by taking more action with regard to ground delays?
  • Could we find a trade-off to keep a minimum pressure on the runways?
  • What is the effect of slot adherence?
  • Could we assess the effect of new techniques such as target time of arrival?

This study is undertaken in collaboration with NATS in the framework of the SESAR Wave 3 ITARO (PJ37) project.