A Covid-19 aviation recovery solution
- Do flights arrive on-schedule? If not, how much visibility is there on changes?
- How easy is it to re-plan and re-prioritise your operation?
- Are stands available if flights arrive off-schedule?
Imagine if there was a tool that could tell what is happening with today’s operation, and that could forecast flight and airfield performance for the days and weeks to come, giving you the confidence to make the right decisions.
Demand Capacity Balancer
Every year, airports spend significant time and effort in agreeing schedules with airlines for the forthcoming season with the aim of balancing aircraft demand over the day. However, on the day of operation, we all know things don’t always go to plan.
This results in delays, additional fuel burn, missed connections and in extreme cases, flight cancellations. In addition, Post COVID-19 restrictions are resulting in airlines re-planning and re-scheduling flights more frequently than ever before, making this uncertainty even greater.
Demand Capacity Balancer is an airport planning tool developed by NATS and Harris Orthogon which can solve this issue and help make every day predictable. To do this, the system uses a combination of historic data on adherence to schedule and flight plan accuracy and combines these with dynamic, real time data on departure time, global winds, ATC restrictions and local air traffic volumes. At the core of Demand Capacity Balancer is an accurate flight by flight simulation that provides a predicted arrival / departure time for each and every movement at your airport.
The result is a narrowing of the uncertainty, resulting in a high degree of predictability and the ability to:
- Better plan and manage daily operations such as stand management.
- Optimise resources across the airport – people and equipment are in the right place at the right time.
- Minimise on the day cancellations.
How Demand Capacity Balancer can help recovery
Covid-19 has seen airports operating with reduced terminal capacity, meaning having sufficient stands becomes an issue if aircraft arrive off schedule. Demand Capacity Balancer helps solve this problem by giving highly accurate and predictable flight arrival times allowing airports to plan and allocate stands and resources ahead of time. This saves you cost and time in reactive management, while also aiding a green recovery by avoiding the need for arriving aircraft to wait for an available stand, and the unnecessary fuel burn whilst holding on taxiways.
Equally, the need for social distancing can cause an issue in passenger segregation or immigration if two widebody flights arrive on adjacent stands. In this situation, Demand Capacity Balancer can help you flexibly re-allocate stands to reduce passenger congestion and bottlenecks. Passengers will have an improved socially distanced experience and it will give you visibility of demand in key areas, such as immigration and baggage reclaim, helping keep queues low and avoiding negative headlines.
The predictability Demand Capacity Balancer gives you can also allow zoned areas of the terminal to be closed during quiet periods saving on operating expenditure. Conversely, airport traffic may have grown to a point where decisions are being taken to re-open terminals or taxiways. The cost of full or even partial opening of a terminal will be significant and at a time of huge cost pressure. A decision like that should be backed up with as much information as possible. Rather than having to base this on schedule information, the use of Demand Capacity Balancer provides the airport with the actual traffic situation. Demand Capacity Balancer can also allow you to make data driven decisions that might permit a multi terminal airport to operate on reduced assets and at a reduced operating expenditure for longer.
Airports with Demand Capacity Balancer as part of their COVID recovery plan will benefit from:
- Highly accurate and predictable flight arrival times. This provides a more stable and effective resource allocation, saving cost and time in managing assets such as gates and tugs.
- A more effective deployment of staff to match actual traffic peaks in traffic. This will provide passengers with an improved and socially distanced experience and give visibility of demand in key areas such as immigration leading to fewer queues.
- Greater stability on arrivals will allow you to flexibly reallocate stands to avoid passenger congestion, or to allow zoned areas of the terminal to be closed during quiet periods.
How Demand Capacity Balancer helped at Heathrow
Demand Capacity Balancer has helped Heathrow model changes to its operation in real-time.
The flight above is a real example from Demand Capacity Balancer in action. Strong upper winds across the Atlantic are resulting in early arrivals, with this flight from Chicago arriving over an hour ahead of schedule. Demand Capacity Balancer gave the airport advance warning, allowing them to allocate stand staff and other turn around assets accordingly. The result was this arrival being “no surprise” which meant no waiting for stand guidance to be switched on, or air bridge qualified handlers to arrive.
In addition, the recent trial of Target Time of Arrival (TTAs) at Heathrow demonstrated the ability of the system to help airports achieve a consistent and predictable flow of traffic to match the available infrastructure. TTA derived regulation delivered a 26% reduction in overall ATFM delay when compared to that which conventional regulation would have delivered. TTAs were successfully used to resolve periods of excessive runway demand and associated airborne holding during peak operational days with record numbers of Air Traffic Movements.
During the trial, Demand Capacity Balancer identified the required solution based on the desired operational outcome, and this was coordinated directly through the Network Manager. TTA regulations were demonstrated to be more stable and no more penalising, in terms of ATFM delay per flight, than conventional regulations and provided equitable distribution of ATFM delay per flight across all Airspace Users.
Learn more about Demand Capacity Balancer (DCB) here.