NATS’ Intelligent Approach for Schiphol

Intelligent Approach, the air traffic control system that dynamically separates arrivals by time instead of distance, is in the first phase of being deployed at Schiphol Approach to help improve tactical capacity and operational resilience at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

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The Dutch air traffic service provider, LVNL will work with its UK counterpart, NATS and the technology firm, Leidos to deploy the system, targeting operational use by the end of 2020.

Intelligent Approach was developed jointly by NATS and Leidos building on research work originally carried out within SESAR. It dynamically calculates the optimum gap between arriving aircraft for the wind conditions and displays dynamic separation and spacing indicators to the controllers.

This can improve an airport’s tactical capacity in all weather conditions but is especially effective during strong headwinds when separating aircraft by fixed distance results in a falling landing rate with knock-on delays.

Marcel Bakker, LVNL general manager systems and infrastructure, said: “LVNL is pleased to execute this project with its iTEC partner, NATS. This cooperation is a good example in how ANSP’s can reduce the time to market and deliver customer benefits sooner and more cost effectively.

“The successful implementation at Heathrow gives confidence that the ambitious implementation schedule at one of the busiest airports in Europe can be achieved. We look forward to the cooperation with NATS and Leidos on implementing IA at Schiphol. It’s another good example of enabling aviation together that helps us for further improvements.”

Intelligent Approach was first introduced at Heathrow Airport in 2015. Today it allows two additional landings per-hour in normal conditions and recovers on average four landings per hour in strong headwinds, cutting delays due to headwinds by more than 60% and helping ensure the airport can deliver to plan and airlines can keep to schedule.

Guy Adams, NATS commercial director, said: “Intelligent Approach has been making a huge difference to the Heathrow operation, and I’m delighted to see other air traffic service providers recognising the value it can add to their own operations. I’m certain it will deliver similar benefits for LVNL and Schiphol Airport and represents another success for our partnership with Leidos.”

Earlier this year NAV CANADA announced it would be working with NATS and Leidos to introduce Intelligent Approach for arrivals into Toronto Pearson Airport.

Karen Drake, Leidos transportation business director said:  “We are pleased to see that the Intelligent Approach tools are being recognised as offering benefits to an increasing number of airports.  We are confident that through the NATS / Leidos partnership Intelligent Approach will continue to grow in both popularity and functionality to deliver even more value to ANSPs, airlines and airports.”

In 2018 the system was updated to include the latest RECAT wake vortex categories and include Optimised Runway Delivery, providing separation indicators to runway threshold. Intelligent Approach also provides controllers with Runway Occupancy indicators where that is more limiting than wake separation.

Further Intelligent Approach functionality is currently under development to introduce ‘Pairwise Separation’, where every pair of aircraft types will have its own separation standard as opposed to the six categories in use today, and ‘Mixed Mode’ for managing arrivals on mixed mode runways.

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