This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 636308.

Project News
A new technology which reduces flight delays due to high winds is being trialled in three British airports. The traffic management technology uses time-based separation allowing three additional aircrafts to land during days with high headwinds. This technology may have huge impacts on passenger experience if it is rolled out across European airports. We will look forward to hearing the results of the trials.
  • Time-based separation technology has been on trial at Heathrow Airport
  • It allowed three more aircraft an hour to land on days with high headwinds
  • The system is to be introduced at Gatwick and Manchester Airports
  • It could also be rolled out to other airports around Europe to cut delays
High winds are one of the most common causes of flight delays and cancellations at airports around the world, but new technology is now to put an end to the problem. Air traffic controllers at three of Britain's busiest airports are adopt a new system that can automatically adjust the landing rate of aircraft depending on the wind conditions.Traditional landing procedures mean aircraft must be separated by a set distance when on approach to a runway to avoid the air vortexes created by their wings and engine disrupting those behind.
In strong headwinds, this can lead to the gap between aircraft being increased as the aircraft take longer to reach the runway, often leading to aircraft having to circle to wait their turn. But following research by Nats, the UK's national air traffic service, and defence firm Lockheed Martin, new technology could cut the delays caused by headwinds by 60 per cent. They found that in strong headwinds the vortex created by an aircraft actually decays faster, meaning planes can be safely flown closer together.
To allow this, the technology employs a technique known as 'time-based separation' (TBS), which ensures aircraft land at a set time intervals rather than separating them by distance.The system has been trialed for the past 12 months at Heathrow Airport in London, the world's busiest two runway airport and is now to be rolled out to Gatwick and Manchester Airports.
It could mean reduced delays for the 60 million passengers that pass through the three airports each year.
How Time-Based Separation Works
Time-based separation replaces the old system of keeping large aircraft five nautical miles apart when they come into land. By using a system that separates the aircraft by time, it can adapt to different wind conditions. So in strong headwinds, the distance between aircraft reduces, but the time between landings actually remains the same. In tail winds, the distance increases while keeping the time the same. It was developed after researchers found that the vortexes created by aircraft wings and engines actually decay faster in headwinds. This means it is possibly for aircraft to fly closer together in headwinds without affecting the airflow of those behind. 



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