Time-Based Separation at Heathrow Airport


Jan. '14CompletedFeb. '16

Implementing Partners

Leader: Heathrow Airport
Contributor: British Airways
Contributor: NATS


Time-Based Separation (TBS), deployed by Heathrow Airport, NATS and British Airways, is in operation and delivering benefits at Heathrow Airport since March 2015. Heathrow TBS was the first world’s TBS system to be implemented and paved the way for TBS to become the norm at capacity-constrained airfields.

By 2030, this implementation is expected to save almost 100.000 minutes of flight time and 23.000 tons of fuel. These elements equate to 55 million euros of monetised benefits by that date.

097AF2 1

Under the previous final approach system of fixed-distance separation, aircraft groundspeed dropped when headwinds increased, reducing the landing rate – which in turn led to extended airborne holding and increased delays. Time-Based Separation dynamically adjusts the separation between arrivals, maintaining the time separation between aircraft at a constant equivalent to the distance separation in order to safely reduce the approach separation recovering most of the capacity otherwise lost during strong headwind conditions.

TBS operates in all wind conditions, reducing separation between arrivals in strong headwinds and slightly increasing separation in still or tailwind conditions.

The next phase of the TBS evolution is to enhance the current Heathrow TBS system so it provides controllers with tool support to deliver more efficient wake separations, enabling more rapid recovery from adverse conditions, helping to reduce the overall delay for arrival and departure operations and mitigating the increasing use of heavier aircraft types


A certain number of completed projects are highlighted as it was already possible to provide detailed information on specific benefits brought by these projects. In time, SESAR Deployment Manager will provide such detailed information for every completed project.

Countries involved

Additional Information

  • Project Type: Airport
  • CEF Call Year: 2014
  • Civil/Military: Civil
  • Multistakeholder: Yes
  • Main AF: AF2 - Airport Integration and Throughput
  • Sub AF: S-AF 2.3 Time Based Separation for Final Approach
  • Progress Percentage: 100%


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