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Time Based Separation at Heathrow Airport – The key to reducing delays

Heathrow airport has deployed a world first operational system to safely separate arriving aircraft by time even in strong wind conditions, called Time Based Separation (TBS). This is a concrete example of a coordinated deployment of an innovative solution contributing to the Single European Sky performance objectives.

Prior to TBS deployment, Heathrow Airport experienced over 400,000 minutes of arrival delay each year, with 80% of this attributable to adverse weather conditions.  Wind was accountable for 44% of all delays, making it the single highest cause of arrival delay and also resulted in large numbers of flight cancellations. As Europe’s largest hub airport any delay can cause a chain reaction across the European network.

The TBS system allows maintaining an efficient landing rate even with strong winds. This means that it has a significant impact on increasing the capacity of the airports, in reducing delays and thereby in reducing costs.  From the passenger perspective it will significantly reduce flight cancellations due to bad weather conditions.

Furthermore, the deployment of the TBS has been coordinated between the Air navigation Service Provider, Heathrow airport, airlines, and with the support from Eurocontrol – demonstrating a very high level of cooperation in one of the busiest airports in the world.

Award winning video by Henrik HOLOLEI – European Commission Director-General for Mobility and Transport

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