Summary of KDC results 2013

KDC worked on eleven projects in 2013. Six of these projects were completed in 2013. The others are multi-year projects which will continue in 2014. 

The figure below shows in which fields results were achieved in 2013. The results are then explained for each section. 

 1.       Improved delivery of traffic to the TMA 

The development of the arrival management function is a multi-year KDC activity. In addition to simulations and trials, KDC supports this development by hiring in expertise for the construction and specification of prototype software. The development of the arrival management function will serve a new handling concept for the Schiphol approach area (TMA) based on fixed approach routes and Continuous Descent Approaches (CDAs). Implementation of this new handling concept requires traffic to be delivered to the TMA more uniformly. At the moment traffic may not deviate from the planned time for TMA entry by more than 60 seconds in order to be able to use fixed approach routes (with limited capacity) in the TMA.  

The first step supported by AMAN is the new TMA design containing four TMA entries (4 IAFs, or Initial Approach Fixes). In order to be able to take the design containing 4 IAFs into use, delivery precision of 120 seconds is required. The first version of the new AMAN (called ASAP: Advanced Schiphol Arrival Planner) supports this delivery precision. 

In 2013 the following support activities were conducted as part of the arrival management development: 

  1. Development and evaluation of a prototype ASAP

  2. Development and specification of the interface between ASAP and the AAA system

  3. Evaluation of the ASAP user interface 

These activities are for the benefit of the initial implementation step in Q2/2015. Please also see the sub-strategy for the arrival management function below.


 In 2013, a PhD student from TU Delft conducted support tasks on arrival management. The PhD research supports two development flows within KDC: 

  1. Research into the further expansion of the planning horizon and dealing with uncertainties about arrival times as the remaining flight time increases.

  2. Practical support for the ASAP prototype evaluation and any research questions deriving from this. 

2.       Safety in convergent runway use 

In the wake of an incident during convergent runway use, a study was held into whether air traffic controllers can be supported with a system, based on radar detection, which issues a warning when aircraft initiate a go-around or missed-approach procedure. A 2013 KDC study demonstrated that this type of system is technically feasible. Construction of a prototype system was initiated in 2013 in preparation for phased implementation from 2015. KDC will deliver the specifications for the prototype system. 

3.       Strategy for use of new technology in TWR operations 

A strategy has been developed with the support of the National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR) human factor expertise with a view to system development at the Schiphol Centre control tower.   

New technologies are usually implemented in order to solve existing problems at the control tower. Yet it is useful to be able to base decisions on a generic strategy in relation to future developments. This involves taking the correct decisions on the design of the working environment and the question of whether the new development fits in with the long-term plan for the control tower and the airport environment. The strategy for the future working environment encompasses the role of humans, the role of the system and the integration of humans and the system in the control tower. 

4.       Improving efficiency in Winter Operations 

In 2013, with the support of Meteoconsult the first phase of the “De-Icing Planner” project was implemented. The first phase saw the development of a model which enables an accurate five-day forecast of de-icing conditions. 

Being able to plan de-icing conditions is important to the efficiency of an airline’s winter operations. In the case of KLM, based on weather forecasts the de-icing department estimates the required de-icing capacity 24 hours in advance. The required de-icing resources are coordinated with this. The current forecasting tools are not sufficient to estimate the required de-icing capacity on cold days without forecast precipitation. Frost, and in some cases a layer of ice, forms in these conditions on aircraft wings and de-icing is required even though it has not been predicted. This disrupts Schiphol’s operations, with consequences for Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AAS) and Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL). 

In the winter of 2014 the de-icing model will be calibrated with the aid of a test wing fitted with sensors. 

5.       CDM: Use of mobile devices in the cockpit 

The first phase of the “Improving CDM by using mobile devices in the cockpit” study was conducted in 2013. Likely applications were inventoried in the first phase which could be operationalised in a second phase. The inventory initially focused on the CDM (Collaborative Decision Making) process. 

Many airlines are introducing mobile devices to their aircraft cockpits. The number of aircraft equipped with these is growing fast. The digitalisation of information (paperless cockpit) and connectivity are the main applications with a view to efficient flight operations. 

Connectivity can be effected during an aircraft’s turnaround process at an airport in order to benefit all parties (airlines, Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs), airports). The turnaround process could be improved by notifying the crew via CDM of the status of the turnaround process and adding information from the crew to CDM. This exchange of information can be enabled by designing an app which can send relevant information in a simple and time-saving manner. The involvement of the crew in the CDM process is expected to improve turnaround efficiency, especially when external conditions apply, such as limited runway use and meteorological factors (e.g. de-icing procedures). 

6.       Improved weather forecasting 

At the initiative of KDC the topics of “Improving Schiphol wind forecasts” and “Improving Schiphol visibility forecasts” were included in the Knowledge for Climate Research Programme (KvK), under “Hotspot Schiphol”. The research programme lasts four years. During the interim evaluation in October 2012 it was established that the programme was on track.

The main outcome of the KvK for KDC is the delivery of a new weather model called HARMONIE. This model will enable the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) to provide improved wind and visibility forecasts. HARMONIE is scheduled to be taken into use at the KNMI in 2015. The research into support for improved wind and visibility forecasts was continued in 2013.  

7.       “Fixed approach routes with high capacity” concept 

In 2013, the KDC continued its research into Aircraft Surveillance Applications Systems Interval Management (ASAS IM). In 2013, the project team initiated preparations for a real-time simulation aimed at evaluating the role of air traffic controllers. The real-time simulation will be held in 2014. 

The KDC ASAS team was expanded in 2013 to include NASA and Rockwell-Collins, in addition to existing partners KLM, NLR, LVNL, Boeing and TU Delft. KDC therefore has a leading international team for ASAS Interval Management. This leading role is underlined by the work that the NLR does for EUROCAE/RTCA on standardisation. Italian air traffic control organisation ENAV has also asked the NLR to take on the role of project leader of the SESAR project 5.6.6 (stream 2) ASAS Interval Management. 

8.       New TMA concept + Noise reduction strategy 

The strategy for the phased development of fixed approach routes and Common Descent Approaches (CDAs) from a low altitude was delivered in 2013. This study made use of the expertise of MITRE, in addition to expertise provided by KDC partners KLM and LVNL. Part of this strategy for the TMA is the phased implementation of fixed approach routes and the development of tools which aid air traffic controllers in merging traffic flows in the TMA. Parallel CDAs are not yet implemented anywhere in the world and the Dutch aviation sector is therefore taking a pioneering role with this development. 

In 2014, a start will be made on developing the support tool required to realise this strategy: a merging tool that supports air traffic controllers in merging traffic flows onto a fixed approach route. 

9.       Data Link Business Case study 

A data link business case study was conducted in 2013 which included a cost-benefit analysis of CPDLC services with potential for Schiphol operations. The outcome of the data link business case will be included in decision-making on the future of the AAA air traffic control system. 

Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) is a communication tool based on a data link application. This technique enables ATC communications between pilots and controllers via text messages. The European Commission-mandated Data Link Services Implementing Rule (DLS IR) EC29/2009 of 16 January 2009 obliges airspace users to install CPDLC services in their existing and future fleet of passenger planes for use above FL285. This also provides options for applications in Dutch airspace below FL245 with a view to more efficient LVNL operations around Schiphol.  

10.   Research into the role of air traffic controllers in the SESAR concept 

2013 was the final year of the PhD research conducted by Alicia Walkowiak from Maastricht University. This research is part of the “Human Factors in Future ATM” programme and focuses on the changing role of air traffic controllers in future ATM systems. Based on the description of the SESAR concept, ATM is expected to focus more on the pre-tactical planning of traffic in future rather than on the tactical control of traffic. Yet tactical skills will still need to be retained. The research focuses on the future scenario in which air traffic controllers chiefly conduct monitoring tasks, but in the event of unexpected situations will still need to be able to switch to ‘manual’ air traffic control.   

The research results are expected to be published in the first quarter of 2014. 

11.   Safety/efficiency of ACC control 

In July 2012 the Mode-S Enhanced Surveillance project was implemented with support from KDC. This project provides ACC controllers with data from the cockpit via the Mode-S data link. Implementation of these Downlink Airborne Parameters (DAPs) encompasses Pilot Selected Flight Level, Magnetic Heading and Indicated Airspeed. The implementation of Selected Flight Level contributes greatly to improving safety. This system notifies air traffic controllers at an early stage of any incorrect flight levels set in the cockpit. The downlink for magnetic heading and indicated airspeed contributes to the efficiency of flight handling and reduces radio use. 

Mode-S Enhanced Surveillance was also implemented at Schiphol Approach in the autumn of 2013, to the great satisfaction of the controllers. KDC also conducted an additional study in 2013 into new application options for Mode-S Enhanced Surveillance. This study yielded a few more options for applications, the implementation of which will be studied further.