Inbound sequencing based on Airline Priorities

A future without delays; seeking the best-possible sequence for incoming aircraft.  

Extra inconvenience and high costs. As a passenger it’s really annoying if you miss your connection because the aircraft is delayed. Especially if that turns out to depend on chance. The first aircraft to arrive at the airport is also the first to land. At the moment almost no account is taken of any airline preference  for  a flight to land earlier. How can we improve this?

Three ways to success 

Stichting KDC studied three options in Inbound Priority Sequencing (IPS) for improving the sequence of incoming flights. In conjunction with KLM Flow Control, we determined how a flight can make time gains using IPS. And it proved a success, because this yielded an average of three to six minutes of time gains. The record went to a flight from Rome to Amsterdam: no fewer than 14 minutes. This leads to fewer passengers missing their connections at Schiphol.  

Improving the current situation  

The first option was based on managing the speed and route. Project leader Sigmund Lentze explains: “We studied how KLM can use existing data more deliberately to achieve the best-possible speed. At the moment, flow control constantly monitors the time at which aircraft will land. If an aircraft wishes to land earlier, it can fly more quickly. This does consume more fuel though. Or flow control seeks an alternative route. Yet there are always factors over which you have no control. Such as wind or slower aircraft. Think of it like driving a car: if the road is closed or there is a traffic jam, you cannot drive any faster. And so you incur a delay.”   

Sharing knowledge 

The second option is based on sharing knowledge between KLM and air traffic control. Air traffic control takes into account the speed of an aircraft and the reason for the speed. Lentze: “What if KLM clearly informs air traffic control that an aircraft is flying faster because it needs to land earlier? Then air traffic control can react accordingly. It can coordinate the sequence of the air traffic better.”  

Over the horizon 

Finally, we investigated how preview planning can improve interaction between KLM Arrival Planning and LVNL Inbound Planning. LVNL then knows well in advance which traffic is incoming. This increases the distance and offers the option of implementing the improvement over the horizon. “In Amsterdam they can already see the flights that are still flying over France,” Lentze continues. “But this is something for the future. At the moment each country still has its own planning system.”  

Future plans
In spite of the last option still being a future scenario, we can already implement the first two options. And there is only one ‘but’: LVNL has to treat all airlines equally. “An airline may ask LVNL to exchange two of its own flights. The first come, first served principle still applies. IPS simply allows us to respond to this better.”