Fareham, United KingdomFAB UK-IRL (NATS, IAA) FABEC (DSNA, EUROCONTROL, DFS) Snowflake Software & Harris Orthogon
The Extended Cross Border Arrivals Management for London Heathrow Airport (Heathrow XMAN) is an inter-FAB (Functional Airspace Block) initiative designed to reduce the time aircraft spend in holding stacks around London Heathrow. It is the first multiple ANSP cross border arrival (XMAN) service of its kind anywhere in the world and involves UK-Ireland FAB and FABEC ANSPs. It marks one of the first operational deployments of the SESAR concept of Extended Arrival Management and is already delivering tangible benefits to airspace users.
One of the main challenges for Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) and one of the main objectives of the Single European Sky (SES) initiative, is to reduce costs for airspace users whilst maintaining safe and efficient operations and reducing the impact on the environment. The Extended Cross Border Arrivals Management project for London Heathrow is the first large implementation initiative of a broader FABEC and UK-Ireland FAB XMAN project aimed at implementing Extended Arrival Management for airports within and close to FABEC airspace (e.g. for London, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Amsterdam, Zurich and Brussels, amongst others).
One of the airlines’ largest costs is fuel. Heathrow XMAN reduces the time aircraft spend in the fuel-intensive orbital holding phase of flight, by reducing speed in the more fuel-efficient cruising phase of flight.
Heathrow XMAN shares arrival information for aircraft landing at Heathrow with ANSP Partners. This enables controllers in the UK, France, Ireland and the Netherlands to slow aircraft down up to 350 nautical miles away from London in order to minimise holding times on arrival. Prior to the introduction of Heathrow XMAN flights could only be influenced once in UK airspace, which could be as little as 75nm from the airport.
By extending this horizon, we are able to help airlines reduce fuel burn, generating cost savings for airspace users, as well as reducing the environmental impact of aviation through reduced CO2 emissions and reduced noise for communities surrounding the airport.
As part of Heathrow XMAN, NATS helped create an arrival sequence service for Heathrow Airport from the Arrival Manager (AMAN) located at the London Control Centre in Swanwick. This service is disseminated to IAA Shannon, DSNA Reims, DSNA Brest, EUROCONTROL Maastricht and NATS Prestwick Air Traffic Control Centres who then slow aircraft accordingly when delay is anticipated. The information is also shared with Heathrow Airport Tower to help optimise their airfield operation.
As well as reducing fuel burn, saving costs and CO2 emissions, Heathrow XMAN demonstrates the potential of SWIM (System Wide Information Management), a new concept that will transform the way information is shared between European aviation stakeholders. This is based on open standards technology and has tangible benefits in terms of reduced development costs and the potential for new services through open information exchange between partners, which will help to achieve the objectives of SES.
Since April 2014, when the XMAN Trial commenced, NATS has recorded a reduction of up to one minute in holding times for those aircraft influenced by the XMAN activity. This equates to annual savings of 15,000 tonnes of CO2, 4,700 tonnes of fuel, or €4m (based on 2014 fuel figures), as well as a reduction in noise for communities beneath the holding stacks.
Heathrow XMAN was originally introduced as a trial but entered permanent operational deployment in November 2015.
- Contribution to increasing capacity of ATM systems
- Contribution to reducing ATM costs
- Contribution to reducing the impact of air transport on the environment
- Early implementation
- Potential to be replicated over the ATM network
- Innovative aspects
Contribution to increasing capacity of ATM systems:
By reducing the amount of time aircraft spend in orbital holding stacks within the Terminal Manoeuvring Area (TMA) surrounding busy airports, capacity within the busy TMA is increased.
Reducing stack holding reduces complexity and the workload for TMA controllers, giving them greater capacity to manage busy terminal airspace.
Contribution to reducing ATM costs:
Absorbing delay in the en-route phase, when aircraft are higher and more efficient saves fuel, one of the largest costs for airlines. Since April 2014, when the XMAN Trial commenced, NATS has recorded a reduction of up to a minute in holding times for those aircraft influenced by the XMAN activity. This equates to annual savings of £3M (€4M) in fuel (*based on 2014 costs).
The web service based system utilises existing ATC networks to deliver the XML (Extensible Markup Language) formatted Arrival Sequence Message. As the system uses Commercial off the Shelf hardware and commercially available software there is no requirement for bespoke functionality or equipment, which reduces the costs of project implementation by selecting commercially available products (from Snowflake Software and Harris Orthogon).
The Service Oriented Architecture is open standard and is readily available for further expansion and use by new systems and operational parties. The flexibility of the XML based message set is demonstrated as it is easily converted into other formats to enable use of a multitude existing and new platforms, again reducing costs.
Contribution to reducing the impact of air transport on the environment:
Absorbing delay in the en-route phase, when aircraft are higher and more efficient saves fuel and CO2 emissions while minimising noise for the communities living beneath the stacks.
In 2009, delays caused by holding at Heathrow alone were estimated to have cost £40M (€53M), with an average time spent in the hold of 7.6 minutes.
Since April 2014, when the XMAN Trial commenced, NATS has recorded a reduction of up to a minute in holding times for those aircraft influenced by the trial. This equates to annual savings of 15,000 tonnes of CO2, as well as a reduction in noise for communities beneath the holding stacks.
Heathrow XMAN has the potential in full operational service to make annual savings of £13M (€17M) in fuel costs and up to 65,000 tonnes of CO2 by reducing the average time aircraft hold.
Early implementation ("First mover"):
This is the first multiple ANSP cross border arrival (XMAN) service of its kind anywhere in the world and a great example of partnership working for the benefit of airline customers and a potential future model for the industry.
Extended AMAN is required to be in operation at 24 airports across Europe by 2024. This implementation is the first of its kind and comes well ahead of this legislative deadline, recognising the benefit it can deliver to airspace users today.
It is the first deployment of a virtualised web service platform and SWIM enabled system using Open Standards in the operational environment by European ANSPs. This has huge potential to improve the flow of information between airlines, airports and ANSPs and in doing so, to help improve performance and reduce costs.
Potential to be replicated over the ATM network:
All of the procedures developed and implemented through this initiative can be deployed at other airports and by other ANSPs. This can serve as the basis for the other Pilot Common Projects implementations of Extended AMAN, which is mandated at 24 other airports across Europe.
The architecture uses existing PENS (Pan-European Network Services) network connectivity which is already used for ANSP information exchanges. The open architecture XML based Arrival Sequence Message is adaptable and expandable to suit multiple user requirements.
It is the first deployment of a virtualised web service platform and SWIM enabled system using Open Standards in the European operational environment.
The XML based Arrival Sequence Service is flexible and adaptable. This has been demonstrated by the use of the message to drive standalone Human Machine Interface (HMI) screens at Network Management positions (IAA, DSNA & EUROCONTROL Maastricht) and controller working positions (DSNA & NATS Prestwick). Significantly, it has also been adapted to display individual XMAN activity requests directly to ATCOs on the radar display labels (EUROCONTROL Maastricht).
This implementation is an inter-FAB collaboration between the UK-Ireland FAB and FABEC. It is led by NATS in partnership with DSNA; the Irish Aviation Authority; EUROCONTROL Maastricht; and Heathrow Airport, and is part of a broader strategy to eliminate stack holding for Heathrow in the longer term. The implementation is based on common operational concepts and requirements developed in the FABEC XMAN project and is fully compliant with the SESAR solution on Extended Arrival Management.
Overcoming the extra challenges that this encompasses is a great example of partnership working for the benefit of airline customers and a potential future model for the industry.
Lessons and experience from Heathrow XMAN are being applied to the larger FABEC XMAN project, led by DFS, as NATS and IAA are also members of the project. The collaborative concept is applicable to other airports which can benefit from this innovate approach.
Contribution to change management:
EUROCONTROL Maastricht have deployed XMAN operationally by converting the Arrival Sequence XML message to an OLDI (On-Line Data Interchange) compliant Arrival Message, which will display on radar screen labels if XMAN activity is required by controllers.
As part of the continuing development of XMAN there is a planned deployment of a protocol adaptor to enable this functionality to other partners. This will initially be used by IAA Shannon and displayed on the Shannon radar screens.
This SWIM enabled functionality is expandable to new and current systems promoting transition from existing to future technological capabilities.
Promoting SES and SESAR beyond the Union’s boundaries:
As part of the SESAR TopFlight Project, arrival metering across the North Atlantic was extensively studied, with the capability of airframes to adjust speed a key factor.
Through the use of SWIM, XMAN data could be used by Oceanic Control Platforms to absorb linear delay as part of the SESAR Target Time of Arrival Concept (TTA). The expansion of the Extended AMAN concept would lend itself readily to Time Based Separation areas, by managing arrival streams over a long distance including Canadian and US areas of responsibility.