Air Traffic Management

Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research Projects

The Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) programme is an initiative to modernise Air Traffic Management across Europe, where airlines, air navigation service providers, airports, military and manufacturers work together to achieve safer, more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly air transport network. Some improvements enabled by SESAR are also required by European Union legislation.

Under the EU Single European Sky legislation Gatwick Airport is required to implement modern technologies to contribute to the increased effectiveness of air traffic management in Europe. The improvements are specified in the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 716/2014 on the establishment of the Pilot Common Project. The scope of improvements covers surrounding airspace (London Terminal Manoeuvring Area), runway and airfield ground operations.

Within SESAR programme, Gatwick Airport was able to secure Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) partial funding to help modernise its operation and meet the requirements of the (EU) No 716/2014 regulation. Below is a brief description of selected on-going and completed projects that we have undertaken in recent years.

Integrated air traffic controller working position (Project Reference Number: 2015_298_AF2)

We are working on transformational changes to technology and procedures used by local Air Traffic Control (ATC). The Integrated Air Traffic Controller Working Position project aims to introduce state-of-the-art air traffic control system that integrates all of information into a single display. The project will deliver new air traffic control functionalities required by SESAR, such as airport safety nets and advanced routing function for the controller. The integrated working position will improve levels of safety, increase throughput, increase efficiency of ground operations by optimising aircraft routings, and at the same time reduce air traffic controller workload.

The project is divided into three phases:

  • Phase 1 – Establish Innovation & Test Laboratory that can be used by air traffic controllers and system developers to design, build and test prototype system. This phase is close to completion.
  • Phase 2 – Development of the Final Build System customised to Gatwick-specific requirements.
  • Phase 3 – Operational Implementation.


Enhanced tracking of airfield vehicles (Project Reference Number: 2014_092_AF2)

We equipped a number of airfield vehicles with new ADS-B transmitters to enhance their visibility on the manoeuvring area to air traffic control. The vehicle positioning and identification information provided by ADS-B transmitters improves ATC situational awareness and contributes to the improved performance of runway incursion monitoring system, thus significantly increasing safety on the airfield. Almost 50 vehicles in total were equipped and included leader vehicles, airfield fire service, de-icing fleet and airfield engineering vehicles.

To enhance airside safety and security, we have also developed our airport situational awareness tool (CASPER) and introduced GPS-based transmitters for many other operational vehicles (Ground Handlers’ equipment, refuellers, catering companies and coaches) to support efficient allocation of resources, real-time decision-making and better on-time departure performance.


Initial time-based separation for final approach (Project Reference Number: 2014_094_AF2)

Gatwick Airport implemented auxiliary tool (initial spacing monitor) for NATS approach controllers to help maintain consistent separation on the runway between subsequent arrivals. The innovative tool provides immediate, real-time feedback to approach controller on the actual separation achieved and allows the controller to adapt instructions given to aircraft. The project contributed to reduction of average separation between aircraft in peak hours and, as part of a wider initiative, allowed Gatwick to increase its peak declared runway capacity by two movements per hour. After the implementation of the arrival spacing monitor the spacing compliance by aircraft improved by approximately +40%, the spacing variation decreased by -20%, and the number of go-arounds was reduced providing runway throughput benefits as well as relief from noise to local residents.

Disclaimer: The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Gatwick Airport Ltd and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union.