UK airports complete software rollout to reduce flight delays

Seven UK airports hope to save an estimated £10 million with new technology that promises to improve airspace management and efficiency - reducing both passenger delays and environmental impact.

London City, Stansted, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Luton airports have installed Departure Planning Information (DPI) systems, with the help of not-for-profit Transport Systems Catapult, a government-backed initiative, and the UK's air traffic control provider NATs.

The DPI system notifies the European flight information network when a plane is departing in real-time, allowing the European Air Traffic Control Centres to generate quicker routes for each plane. As a result, passengers will experience fewer delays, Transport Systems Catapult said.

The real-time trackers will go live in each airport over the next few months. However, pilots have already shown improvement.

“If the offline test results are replicated for real once the systems go live in the coming months, then we can expect to see less delays for passengers, both on the ground and in the air, as well as reduced fuel consumption and less harm to the environment,” said Steve Yianni, Transport Systems Catapult chief executive.

“When you consider that this roll-out covers over 30 percent of all commercial air transport flights taking off in the UK every day, then you start to realise the scale of improvement that we’re talking about.”

Heathrowand Gatwick airport already have the system in place.

DPI will save the UK air transport network at least £10 million in three years, the Department for Transport have estimated.

NATs' customer affairs general manager said: “With the Catapult’s support we have been able to update NATS control tower systems to provide this more accurate information to our controllers and the European Air Transport Network."

"With DPI, our controllers will have a more accurate prediction of take-off times, and this in turn will allow our airport and airline customers to better plan their operations, while NATS will be able to offer more fuel efficient routes.”

NATsreceived criticism following a server meltdown late last year, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded in London airports.  It has experienced a number of technical failures since its 2002 Hampshire HQ opened to manage UK airport traffic. In 2013, almost 300 flights were cancelled and 1,400 delayed over two days also due to server failure.

Further rollout

The Catapult is now tendering for a company to carry out installation in the UK’s regional airports that are not yet integrated with the European air traffic network.

The Transport Systems Catapult is one of seven technology and innovation centres established and overseen by the UK's innovation agency, Innovate UK.

Image: ©Flickr/Martin Hatland

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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