Visit showcases SESAR deployments in UK
Visit showcases SESAR deployments in UK

Visit showcases SESAR deployments in UK

Press Release

The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) and the European Commission visited the UK on the 4th and 5th of October to see two leading examples of SESAR concepts in operation.

Time Based Separation (TBS) and the airspace changes made as part of the first phase of the London Airspace management Programme (LAMP1A), which have been co-funded by INEA and supported by the SESAR Deployment Manager, are both helping to deliver the European Commission’s Single European Sky initiative and improve the way Europe’s skies are managed for both the aviation industry and Europe’s flying public. The EU contribution for London Airspace Management Programme (LAMP1A) project was approx. €14 million euro and for Time Based Separation (TBS) €8 million euro.

The first day of the visit saw members of the European Commission, INEA and the SESAR Deployment Manager visit Heathrow Airport to see Time Based Separation, a new means for separating aircraft by time instead of distance, in action. Air Traffic Controllers in the Visual Control Room at Heathrow Airport have display indications for TBS providing them with essential information for aircraft on their final approach to the airport. The concept, which was introduced back in Spring 2015, has seen delays caused by wind reduced by more than 50% and the recovery of up to 44 movements per day in strong headwind conditions at Europe’s busiest hub.

The second day saw the delegation visit NATS Swanwick Centre, one of the UK’s two air traffic control centres and the hub from which radar services for the London Flight Information Region are provided. The delegation was able to see both the approach support for Time Based Separation and the implementation of airspace changes over the South East of England, which have seen the deployment of SESAR’s Point Merge concept, helping to keep aircraft higher for longer and shift holding traffic away from communities and over the sea.

 Henrik Hololei, Director-General, Mobility & Transport at European Commission, said:

“Projects such as Time Based Separation (TBS) at Heathrow and the London Airspace Management Programme (LAMP) are helping us deliver the Single European Sky (SES). Both projects are helping to improve ATM performance in Europe. They help to increase airport capacity and reduce delays and costs. They are also pioneer projects. TBS received an SES Award this year, and it is amongst the first to be set up and funded under the Commission’s SESAR deployment framework partnership. This is proof that close cooperation and partnership can really take aviation to new heights.”

Andreas Boschen, Head of CEF Department at INEA said:

“This visit gave the opportunity to INEA to have a direct insight on the benefits that these two implementing projects are bringing to the ATM network and in the end to all passengers. It showcased the progress made in delivering SESAR and reinforced the excellent collaboration between INEA, the SESAR Deployment Manager and the Implementing partners.”

Paul Haskins, Director, Service Strategy and Transformation at NATS, commented: “NATS is fully committed to delivering SESAR operational capabilities into UK airspace and is already delivering SESAR concepts into operation, with TBS and the airspace changes we made through LAMP1A just two examples of our drive to support SESAR deployment.  It was good to have a chance to show the European Commission and INEA how these projects work in an operational environment and how they are delivering real and tangible benefits for our airline and airport customers everyday.”

Massimo Garbini, Managing Director SESAR Deployment Manager said: “This two-day visit showed that the busiest airport in Europe is clearly recognising the importance of ATM modernisation. With 2 projects delivered, I am proud to experience the benefits in daily operations,  SESAR is again proving to be the right framework for modernising the European sky.”

 This project visit was the second visit of two more to come in 2016. The objective of these visits is to assess the concrete results coming from timely and successful implementation of Pilot Common Project Related Air Traffic Management projects co-funded by the European Commission. During the day, the delegation got a comprehensive view of the concepts in operation, their underlying technology and the benefits they bring to the ATM network and passengers.

Watch the video of this visit here:

More info on the projects:

Project 1: Time Based Separation (TBS) 


Its goal is addressing the biggest single cause of delay to Heathrow arrivals: strong headwinds on final approach. Before Time Based Separation (TBS) deployment, Heathrow Airport experienced over 400,000 minutes of arrival delay each year, with 80% of this attributable to adverse weather conditions. To counteract the effect of wind on the landing rate and provide resilience for airport operations, TBS replaces distance separations with time separations. Since its implementation:

  • Delays caused by wind have reduced by more than 50%;

  • An additional 2.6 movements per hour have been recovered in strong winds;

  • Up to 44 movements per day have been recovered;

  • 80% of separations are smaller than their pre-TBS separations;

  • There has been no increase in Wake Turbulence Encounters or Go-Arounds since TBS went live.


The project has been successfully completed in February 2016.

Partners involved

  • London Heathrow Airport is the busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic, with 75 million passengers arriving and departing in 2015. The annual air transport movements in 2015 amounted to 472,067, with a daily average of 1,293. The airport serves 185 destinations in 84 countries;

  • NATS is the main Air Navigation Service Provider in the United Kingdom. As the sole provider of en route services in the UK, NATS operates from 2 centres at Swanwick in Hampshire, England and Prestwick in Ayrshire, Scotland. Moreover, NATS provides ATC services at 14 of the UK’s major airports. NATS currently has around 4,200 employees, including 1,650 air traffic controllers, 650 Air Traffic Services Assistants, 950 Engineers and 950 Specialists and Business Support Professionals;

  • British Airways (BA) is one of the world’s leading global premium airlines and the largest international carrier in the UK. BA has its home base at London Heathrow and flies to almost 200 destinations in over 75 countries. The airline carries more than 40 million customers a year and currently has approximately 40,000 employees, including 20,000 cabin crew, more than 4,000 pilots, and over 10,000 operational ground staff.


Project 2: London Airspace management Programme (LAMP)


Phase 1A of the London Airspace Management Programme (LAMP) Programme aims at ensuring:

  • Predictable, fuel-efficient trajectories with fewer conflicts for arriving and departing aircraft;

  • Reduced controller intervention with greater resilience against human error;

  • Reduction of environmental impact.

The Programme’s scope covers an area from Stansted to the Island of Wight. Changes affect commercial aircraft using London City, Stansted, Luton, Southampton, Bournemouth, Northolt and Biggin Hill airports. LAMP Phase 1a is an essential enabler for the subsequent phases of LAMP, which is in service of the UK CAA Future Airspace Strategy (FAS) to enable a modernised air traffic management system that provides safe, efficient airspace, that has the capacity to meet reasonable demand, balances the needs of all users and mitigates the impact of aviation on the environment.


Phase 1A of the LAMP programme went into operation in February 2016.. As a result of the project completion, aircrafts departing London City to the South will be able to climb earlier reducing noise and CO2 emissions; aircrafts leaving Stansted to the South will use an easterly route from the airport during the day, climbing more quickly, reducing overall noise and CO2 emissions as well.

Partners involved

  • London Heathrow Airport

  • NATS