The UK NATS' cross-border arrivals management procedure, known as XMAN, has entered permanent operational service at Heathrow Airport.
As part of a broader strategy to eliminate stack holding for Heathrow, the project was successfully trialled at the airport before its deployment.
Led by NATS at Swanwick and Prestwick centres in partnership with DSNA, the Irish Aviation Authority, EUROCONTROL and Heathrow, the project is an inter-Functional Airspace Block (FAB) collaboration between the UK-Ireland FAB and FABEC.
Under the XMAN procedure, NATS air traffic controllers (ATCs) in the UK work with those in France, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands to slow aircraft down up to 350 miles away from London.
This will help minimise holding times on arrival at the airport.
NATS Swanwick control centre operations director Juliet Kennedy said: "Even though the system is now in full operational service, we will continue to make enhancements that will help us deliver even greater time, fuel and emission savings."
As part of the trial, which commenced in April 2014, NATS has to date recorded a reduction of up to one minute in holding times for the flights influenced by the trial.
This has managed to extract an annual savings of £1.65m in fuel and 8,000t of CO². It has also helped reduce noise pollution in the airport vicinity.
Initially, NATS was able to manipulate an aircraft's approach only when it entered the UK airspace, which could only be 80 miles from the airport.
XMAN is a key concept as part of the Single European Sky initiative, which will see deployment of the procedures in 24 airports across Europe by 2024.
Image: The detailed XMAN concept. Photo: courtesy of NATS Limited.