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March 21, 2017

UK NATS and Ireland’s IAA collaborate to reduce aircraft delays and fuel consumption

UK’s air navigation service provider (ANSP) NATS and Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) have collaborated to implement a modern system to help reduce aircraft delays and fuel consumption.

By Lopamudra Roy

UK’s air navigation service provider (ANSP) NATS and Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) have collaborated to implement a modern system to help reduce aircraft delays and fuel consumption.

With a significant upgrade to the existing Cross-Border Arrival Management (XMAN) initiative, the air traffic controllers will be able to reduce delays for both aircraft and passengers travelling into London Heathrow Airport.

In recent years, NATS has partnered with the IAA to develop and implement the XMAN initiative alongside ANSPs in France and the Netherlands.

The new air traffic management system helps provide data on delays at Heathrow Airport directly to radar screens in the IAA’s Shannon en-route control centre.

"It was important to make it as easy as possible for Irish controllers to help manage traffic flows into Heathrow and we have worked closely together through the UK-Ireland functional airspace block (FAB) to achieve that."

After receiving the information, IAA air traffic controllers can easily identify when delays are forecast, as well as coordinate the airport's inbound traffic.

In a statement, NATS noted that reducing aircraft speed in the cruise phase helps reduce delays, which in turn cuts down on the time aircraft spend in fuel-intensive holding stacks at Heathrow Airport.

This facilitates a reduction in both fuel consumption and carbon emissions, in addition to delivering an enhanced arrival experience for travelling passengers.

NATS London Terminal Control general manager Pete Dawson said: “With approximately 15% of all Heathrow arrivals travelling through Irish airspace, it was important to make it as easy as possible for Irish controllers to help manage traffic flows into Heathrow and we have worked closely together through the UK-Ireland functional airspace block (FAB) to achieve that.

“This forms part of our longer-term strategy to minimise the use of holding stacks at Heathrow and shows the importance both parties place on cross-border collaboration to improve the service offered to customers.”

Since the initial launch of XMAN on a trial basis in 2014, more than 4,700t of fuel consumption has been saved every year, reducing costs by approximately £2.5m for airlines annually.

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