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Optimised Procedures and Techniques for Improvement of Approach and Landing


The major airports are increasingly capacity constrained, resulting in significant delays causing frustration and difficulties for both passengers and aircraft operators, and causing environmental problems. The compounded effects of more movements over longer periods of the day and night have increased the disturbance. This has fuelled the resistance of the population living near an airport against further expansion of the facility and its operations.

Project objectives

OPTIMAL is an air-ground co-operative project, which is aiming to define and assess:

a) Innovative procedures for the approach and landing phases of aircraft and rotorcraft

b) New ATC tools and new airborne functions to support these new procedures.

The target timeframe for the operational implementation of OPTIMAL proposed procedures is 2010 and beyond, with an aim to enable stakeholders to:

  • Increase the arrival rate at major airports significantly above the level achieved by current best practices
  • Close the gap between capacity in low visibility conditions and good visibility conditions
  • Allow aircraft/rotorcraft simultaneous operation to generate additional capacity
  • Reduce the environmental impact by avoiding urban areas and by optimising noise and gas emissions during landing phases (such as Continuous Descent profiles)
  • Accelerate the introduction of Approach Procedures with Vertical Guidance (APV)
  • Take full advantage of the RNP-RNAV capabilities that are now available.
  • Increase safety using vertical guidance
  • Better accommodate commuter and general aviation aircraft.

Description of the work

OPTIMAL will design improvements of existing procedures using advanced technologies as well as new procedures:

Aircraft Procedures:

  • (Advanced) Continuous Descent Approach (implementation of a specific vertical profile for noise abatement)
  • ILS look-alike procedure
  • Curved/Segmented approaches
  • RNP 0.1 RNAV approach procedures
  • Non-precision approaches
  • Enablers: ILS, MLS, EVS, FLS, GBAS, SBAS.

Rotorcraft procedures:

  • Specific IFR approach procedures based on GBAS, SBAS
  • Steep / Curved / Segmented IFR approaches
  • Simultaneous Non Interfering (SNI) IFR procedures
  • Enablers: GBAS, SBAS.

OPTIMAL will validate a large number of procedures, as well as the related airborne and ground functions, by using powerful means such as:

- Flight tests for aircraft:Procedure Places
Continuous Descent approachToulouse
Airbus validation
4D advanced CDA
GBAS Cat I approachToulouse
Local procedures
SBAS APV approachSan SebastiánBeechcraftLocal procedures
RNP 0.1 ProceduresToulouseA320Local procedures
- Flight tests for rotorcraft:
IFR RNAV approachBremenEC135Advanced Interop by 4D guidance
SNI Steep approaches with GBASToulouseEC155Local validation Interoperability
SNI Steep approaches with SBASToulouseEC155Local validation Interoperability
- Real-time simulations for aircraft:
Curved, segmented and RNP<0.3 RNP approaches </td/>San Sebastián & MalagaA340 simulator 
EVS approaches Dual Threshold approachesFrankfurt
D-cockpit +
Advanced Continuous Descent approachSchipholGRACE+ATC Sim 
- Real-Time simulations for rotorcraft:
SNI steep approachesToulouse / SchipholHPS + TRS + SPHERE

Validation exercises will be supported by an appropriate validation methodology with the aim of assessing whether the high level objectives (increased capacity, reduced environmental impacts while improving safety) are reached.

Expected results

  • A consolidated/revised Eurocontrol operational concept that will support the implementation of the OPTIMAL advanced procedures
  • A set of generic procedures, as well as the guidelines and recommendations to be used to detail them locally
  • A set of detailed procedures for the particular airports considered in the project
  • A significant contribution to normalisation and standardisation of procedures, as well as of airborne and ground systems.
Steep/Curved/Segmented and Simultaneous Non-Interfering Approaches are some of the topics investigated in OPTIMAL.
Steep/Curved/Segmented and Simultaneous Non-Interfering Approaches are some of the topics investigated in OPTIMAL.