As per a report by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), a lot of airports in the UK are not performing up to the mark as far as timely flights are concerned. The CAA tested ten airports in the UK and among the worst performers of 2014 were Gatwick, followed by Heathrow and Luton. Looks like the Heathrow airport has already come up with an improvement that will help it tackle the issue of flight delay in UK. It is also the first time that any airport in the world will be relying on such technology. What is it all about? Here is all you need to know about Heathrow’s time-based separation system.
New system focuses on separating flights based on time, not distance
Air traffic controllers traditionally separate flights based on the set distances, which are determined by taking into consideration factors like the kind of airplane and their size of air turbulence that is created while they are flying. Airplanes happen to fly much slower while landing on the ground, in case they face strong headwind conditions, which makes them take extra time to land. The landing rate is reduced in such conditions while the set separation distances are maintained. It can result in delays as well as cancellations, apart from affecting the airport capacity.
The introduction of the the time-based separation system, whose first phase has already started at Heathrow airport, will aid the maintenance of landing rate. The system which is already performing much better than what it was expected to do, will help reduce UK flight delay at the airport by up to 80,000 minutes. It means the system will be cutting down the present UK flight delay numbers by half!Simultaneously, it will also help the airlines flying from the airport to cut down on their flight cancellations due to strong headwinds.
Beneficial to both airlines and airport
Developed jointly by Lockheed-Martin and NATS, the time-based separation system is expected to be followed by airports across the world in coming years, given the benefits it has to offer. Martin Rolfe, the managing director of the Operations department of NATS said that the system will not only help the Heathrow airport to improve its image, but also be of great advantage to the airlines. Apart from reducing the instances of UK flight delay and cancellation, it will also help the airport with its resilience against disruption.
Normally, Heathrow’s airport witnesses about 40 landings in one hour. Bad weather conditions like strong winds, however reduce the number to 32. Given that the airport is among the most busiest ones, which has been almost full since the past ten years, the reduced number of flights landing there on a particular day, cannot be reclaimed, which leads to losses. NATS and Lockheed-Martin’s time-based separation system can help the airport in ensuring that weather conditions do not affect its capacity of taking at least 40 landing an hour.