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New Air Traffic Control System for Toronto

Photo: NATS


Toronto/Pearson, Canada’s busiest airport, is to receive a boost from a new air traffic control system. Intelligent Approach, developed by UK air traffic services provider NATS and technology company Leidos, separates arriving aircraft by time rather than distance.

The software is designed to improve punctuality by calculating the optimum time between arriving aircraft based on their type and prevailing weather conditions. It was first deployed at London/Heathrow in 2015 and now allows for over two additional landings per-hour in normal conditions and up to four in strong headwinds.

To create the spacings, data is downloaded direct from the aircraft to determine accurate real-time wind conditions. This is used together with the latest separation standards to calculate the optimum spacing between arrivals, This is translated into markers on the air traffic controller’s radar screen which provide staff with indications of wake vortex and runway separation.

Rudy Kellar, Toronto/Pearson’s Executive Vice President of Service Delivery, said: “We’re pleased to be able to introduce time-based separation using this proven technology into the Toronto Pearson Airport to help improve safe, consistent air traffic throughput in adverse conditions.  This system is one of several significant collaborative initiatives in progress at Toronto that will enhance operational efficiency and capacity in step with increasing traffic demands.”

Guy Adams, NATS Commercial Director, said: “Intelligent Approach has been making a huge difference to the Heathrow operation for four years now, helping to cut headwinds delays by more than 60% and improve airport punctuality, so we are delighted to see our friends at NAV CANADA adopting the same technology. I’m certain it will deliver similar benefits for the Toronto operation and is another example of the success of our partnership orientated approach, this time working closely with Leidos.”Future improvements planned by NATS and Leidos will see the introduction of ‘Pairwise Separation’, where every combination of aircraft types will have its own separation standard as opposed to the six categories used today at Heathrow and optimising the gaps between arrivals and departures at single runway airports.

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