Summary of KDC results 2016

What did we achieve in 2016? Which projects did we work on? What did we complete? What will we continue to work on over the course of the next year? And what are the results so far? You can find the answers to all these questions below.

In 2016…
…we worked on 13 different projects: six short-term and seven multi-year studies;
…we completed nine projects: four short-term and five multi-year studies;
Seven studies will be continued in 2017.

View the results achieved in 2016 in following picture.  

What results did we achieve?

Our KDC Research Agenda is divided into six fields of research. The projects we worked on in 2016 each fit in one of these six categories. The results per field of research are described below.   

1. Safe Airspace and Airport Navigation
2. Airline Operational Efficiency
3. Airport Capacity 
4. Schiphol Airport Meteo Development
5. AMAN Cluster including iCAS development
6. Environmental Information Development 

1. Safe Airspace and Airport Navigation

Alerting based on flight plans

In 2016, we completed the Alerting based on flight plans study. Our objective was to make the Alerting Service for VFR traffic (traffic that operates under the Visual Flight Rules) with a flight plan watertight. The flight plan for these flights sometimes remains open until the ‘uncertainty phase’ is over. This is undesirable, as alerts ought to be triggered after this phase has finished. If the responsible parties are unaware of a flight plan not having been closed, there is a risk of the alert not being triggered. In order to improve the situation, To70 came up with recommendations to enable the Alerting Services to be started in time when necessary. 

2. Airline Operational Efficiency

Inbound sequencing based on airline priorities

MovingDot conducted a previous study on this topic. As a follow-up, Justin The, a student at TU Delft, examined a sub-aspect of Inbound Sequencing based on Airline Priorities for his final project. The aim of the study was to develop a model based on the actual costs of a (KLM) flight. The idea is to determine the optimal landing sequence of inbound KLM aircraft based on economic factors.

The model takes into account several costs: 

  • the cost of flying at a higher speed;

  • cash-out costs of delays that KLM has to pay to passengers;

  • consequential loss, as people who incur delays lose confidence and will be less likely to choose KLM for their next flight.  

If LVNL structures future arrival streams based on airline priorities, KLM will use this model to define its priorities.

Capacity and Runway Predictions

In 2015, To70 delivered a prototype Capacity and Runway Prediction tool. However, during the evaluation it was discovered that the tool occasionally came up with the wrong prediction. This led to To70 conducting a follow-up study in 2016.  

The tool now takes the following into account:  

  • the effects of headwind on capacity;

  • sudden radical changes to weather conditions;

  • the closure of runways.  

An improved interface
Furthermore, the graphic interface was adapted to make it more user-friendly, paving the way for a wide-scale implementation this year. To70 presented a paper on the new tool at the SESAR Innovation Days in October 2016 and are pleased to report that the paper was well received!

Evaluation of WLM ACC performance using MUAC flight data

Objective is to improve the performance of the capacity management system in such a way that the level of traffic regulations  (via the network manager) does not increase as the volume of traffic grows. Over the past few years, LVNL has developed the workload model (WLM) for this.

The workload model provides improved insight into the workload at ACC sectors
The model is not only based on the number of flights in the sector (sector entry counts) but also takes into account the complexity of the traffic flows. In doing so, the WLM assists air traffic control in taking better-informed decisions on splitting up sectors and the effect of regulations. LVNL will make increasing use of the model.

LVNL planning tool uses (partly) inaccurate data
At the moment LVNL uses ETFMS Flight Data (EFD) made available by the network manager (NM). This data is reasonably accurate for aircraft that are already in the air. However, it is very inaccurate when it comes to aircraft that are still on the ground at the airport of departure.

We are evaluating whether MUAC flight data is better than NM data
Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) offered LVNL the option of using MUAC flight data for capacity management. MUAC has spent the past few years enriching NM data. We believe that LVNL could benefit from this improved data. This KDC study, conducted by To70, is therefore evaluating whether MUAC flight data is indeed better than NM data. The study will also demonstrate what this means for the workload model, incidentally without evaluating the model itself. The study was started in 2016 and will be completed in 2017. 

3. Airport Capacity

Operational requirements Schiphol Ground Infrastructure 2016-2020 

What investment is required to enable 500,000 aircraft manoeuvres in 2020? To answer this question and as part of this study, together with To70 we conducted simulations at Schiphol.
We did this in two phases:  

1. What are the bottlenecks in the expected increase in traffic volume in 2016-2020? 

2. What are the possible solutions to these bottlenecks in order to manage traffic on the ground as safely and efficiently as possible?  

What are the bottlenecks? 
We mapped these out based on the available flight schedules for 2016 and 2020. We then discussed these bottlenecks in brainstorm sessions with operational personnel. In addition to the increase in traffic volume, we also examined a number of other bottlenecks more closely.

What are the possible solutions? 
To answer this, we looked at the impact on northern and southern runway use. We identified the effects for the following six infrastructural adjustments:

  • double Quebec
  • extra entry RWY24
  • extra lane bay G/H
  • extended C pier
  • extended F pier
  • double lane ‘tuning fork’ (inner D-pier) 

We have included the results of the study in the recommendations for required investment in the Schiphol 2020 Roadmap. These results also contributed to choices between asset and non-asset solutions.

Optimisation of Outbound Cluster

In 2016, together with MovingDot we conducted a study into the use of data link in the outbound Schiphol process. As part of this study, we looked at the use of data link in clearance delivery, but also at the use of data link by ground control. Here, we included the European development that uses ATN Baseline 2, the latest standard for data link. LVNL is using the results in developing a strategy for the Schiphol air traffic control process.  

Use data link even more frequently
In 2017, we will implement an additional minor activity. This focuses on outlining a tangible plan for increasing the use of airway clearance via data link (DCL) at Schiphol, from its current level of 70% to 95% or higher.

RECAT EU Benefits Schiphol

In 2016, the NLR (Netherlands Aerospace Centre) investigated the benefits of introducing RECAT EU. The results are modest but positive. We have now delivered the report to LVNL, which can use it to define its strategy.

4. Schiphol Airport Meteo Development

De-icing Planner, phase 3

When is de-icing necessary and how much de-icing fluid has to be used under given (or anticipated) weather conditions ? In early 2016, MeteoGroup conducted a study on further optimising a tool which forecasts this. MeteoGroup investigated the forecast type of ice formation on aircraft wings by means of measuring the actual wing temperature and linking this to a forecasting model.  

Accurate forecast
The type of ice formation (from ripe to clear ice)  is a determining factor in accurately estimating the de-icing treatment and time required. MeteoGroup has succeeded in building a model that can accurately forecast the type of ice formation.

5. AMAN Cluster including iCAS development

4D Navigation Business Case: Benefits of SESAR Concept

In July 2016, LVNL conducted a successful simulation of the AMAN-i4D concept. It did so in conjunction with INDRA, DFS, NLR and MUAC following a long preparatory period. The aim of the study was to show the benefits of an arrival management system that is connected to the onboard computers of aircraft heading for Schiphol. The study was linked to the iCAS (iTEC Center Automation System) business case, the system that is to replace AAA (the air traffic control system currently used at LVNL). 

Pilots agree their arrival time
In future, it will be possible to coordinate with pilots long before they enter Dutch airspace. New techniques are used to conclude deals with pilots when they should arrive a specific location (waypoint). During the simulation, this was done for the arrival time at the ARTIP waypoint near Lelystad. If ATC concludes an agreement with the pilot, he or she is then responsible for adhering to the agreed time of arrival. This might involve adjusting the flight speed by the pilot. Either the pilot or air traffic control may cancel the agreement if deemed necessary. 

Multiple benefits
These new developments could lead to the following in future…

 …more accurate traffic flow forecasts;
…improved scheduling of the chain of landing aircraft;
…optimum descent profiles;
…lower workload for air traffic controllers. 

First step
The simulation was partly financed by the European SESAR programme. The results have been reported to the SESAR programme and to LVNL. This study was the first step for us towards developing new functions based on iCAS.

ASAS Interval Management

In 2016, the NLR prepared a trial flight using ASAS Interval Management (ASAS-IM). This trial flight is scheduled to be held in Eelde in 2017. The idea is to demonstrate that ASAS-IM as a whole works, including the aircraft or cockpit aspects. 

What did NLR achieve in 2016? 

  • It worked out the ASAS-IM concept for the cockpit;

  • It studied its operational usability among air traffic controllers;

  • It focused on the integration of ASAS-IM equipment into its test aircraft PH-LAB with the assistance of supplier Rockwell Collins and NASA;

  • Together with air traffic control at Eelde, it designed a second, fictitious fixed approach route;

  • It agreed arrangements on the use of airspace around Eelde for the test flight. 

Demonstration of arrival trajectory prediction

The system didn’t work well at night…

The system LVNL currently uses to schedule approaching air traffic uses standard speeds and altitudes that apply during the day, but at night aircraft fly at different speeds and different altitudes from those used during the day. The system does not accommodate this and as a result yields inaccurate forecasts for arrival times. It is therefore not really usable at night.

…air traffic controllers therefore trust to their instincts 
When they decide the landing sequence, for instance, they apply additional distances in order to allow for the uncertainty concerning arrival times. The consequence is unnecessarily large distances between aircraft and inefficient approach profiles.

The prototype enables accurate predictions at night
We developed a prototype system together with Boeing and Ferway, predicting the arrival times at night with great accuracy. If aircraft deviate from the standard approach profile – both speed and route – air traffic controllers can insert  this into the system. This enables accurate estimates of arrival times and more stable planning.

A full demonstration environment…
We are facilitating the operational evaluation of the system at Schiphol. To this end, we delivered a demonstration environment. The environment contains all the technical requirements for connecting the prototype Boeing system to the AAA system.

…and successful trials
We tested the prototype Boeing system in live trials from February to May and from August to October 2016. These trials were highly successful and the technical support worked as expected. The system facilitates Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) profiles from high altitudes and with sufficient capacity. LVNL will include the results of the trial in the definition of the AMAN implementation roadmap. LVNL expects to include the improvements in the AMAN upgrade (AMAN 2.0).

Traffic Merging Support for Schiphol Approach

Traffic merging in the air is very important. Merging support is the final control tool for the safe merging of aircraft from different routes when approaching a runway for landing. This technique is especially important when aircraft fly fixed approach routes using CDA profiles. In conjunction with improved scheduling, merging support is required to optimise night operations.

Study scope 
This study continues the work of a previous study we conducted on merging support. The NLR conducted this study together with LVNL. Two simulation sessions were held at NLR involving four operational experts (air traffic controllers). In addition, the air traffic controllers reviewed a number of videos made by the NLR containing examples.  

Main conclusions
Merging support: 

  • has added value for night operations;

  • works well if aircraft fly towards the runway via an Initial Approach Fix route;

  • also works well in high winds;

  • is simple and easy to learn how to use;

  • can be used on the existing air traffic control system. Clear arrangements have been agreed on how information needs to be displayed on the radar screen and how we can input this into the air traffic control system. 

A few aspects still need to be decided by LVNL. If flights deviate from the standard route due to delays, this leads to a number of issues relating to the behaviour of what is known as the ghost. The ghost is the representation of a flight on a different route. The ghost will then move backwards or become stationary. There are various solutions for this but they restrict the tool’s scope of application.

6. Environmental Information Development

Aircraft noise app

Idea behind the Aircraft Noise app is to inform residents living near Schiphol 24 hours in advance of the noise levels of aircraft approaching and departing Schiphol. Local residents can then anticipate the noise and adjust their plans accordingly. This yields many benefits; people are generally less irritated by noise if they know what to expect, as demonstrated in a study conducted by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).

No surprises
We developed a prototype of the Schiphol aircraft noise app. Thanks to this app, you know exactly:  

  • when there will be noise from aircraft;

  • how loud it will be;

  • how long the noise will last.  

Working together
Within this project we worked together with the NLR and app builder M2mobi:  

  • The NLR is responsible for developing the engine that contains the underlying information for the app;

  • M2mobi will deliver the concept, design and development of the app.  

The app uses the same weather forecast as air traffic control. This is important, because LVNL uses this weather forecast to select which runways to use for take-off and landing.

Scrum method
We are using the scrum method in this project. This means we apply short-cycle methods in order to develop a prototype. We are testing the prototype in a small user group, including residents close to Schiphol and will subsequently adjust the prototype. We are doing this in a number of steps.

The first prototype is already available
You can input several locations in this prototype. The app then shows you how noise levels will develop on an hourly basis. We intend to add the (planned) runway configuration in 2017. It turned out that many people already know what kind of noise level to expect if they know which runways are in use.