Intelligent Approach

Delivering efficiency and flexibility by optimising arrivals spacing

The solution

Optimising arrivals spacing

Intelligent Approach is an arrival spacing tool that safely optimises runway capacity to improve operational resilience, deliver better on-time performance, reduce CO2 emissions, and increase revenue.

The family of functional modules caters to each airport’s unique needs. IA fully integrates into existing ATC systems and can be used in different environments to deliver benefits in all types of operational scenarios.

Find out more below and perhaps contact us to set up a conversation about how Intelligent Approach can benefit your operation.  

Intelligent Approach - Designed to optimise arrivals management


Intelligent Approach comprises four core modules that can be tailored and deployed specifically to the needs of an airport's unique operational needs. They have been created through combining the air traffic control expertise of NATS with the technology expertise of Leidos.

The modules can be integrated into existing operations and Air Traffic Management Systems without the need for airport infrastructure changes. They are specifically designed to optimise and improve the consistency of approach spacing.

Distance Based Separation

Distance Based Separation provides optimised wake spacing rules to provide controllers with a visual indication of the required separation.

This improves the consistency of delivery of aircraft to the runway, resulting in typical capacity gains of 2-3 landings per hour.

Time Based Separation

Time Based Separation provides an increase in capacity, enabling the ability to deliver more aircraft, or to better deal with peaks in demand.

The dynamic adjustment of spacing for all wind conditions recovers the capacity lost due to headwinds, improving operational and safety performance.

Mixed Mode Operations

A world-first spacing tool that maximises runway arrivals and departures for mixed mode runways, including single runway airports.

Mixed Mode safely increasing capacity and resilience gains by 2-3 movements per hour.


Pairwise provides the capability to separate aircraft using an enhanced wake scheme.

Instead of using a wake scheme that categorises aircraft based on weight and wingspan, Pairwise is categorised using wake vortex separation that is individually tailored for each pair of aircraft, providing typical capacity gains of two landings per hour.

Intelligent Approach for Mixed Mode Operations

Intelligent Approach helps air traffic controllers more efficiently manage the gaps between arriving and departing aircraft.  It provides air traffic controllers with markers on their radar screens, helping them precisely position each arrival to create the most efficient sequence of traffic, increase capacity and reducing fuel burn and emissions. 

The system is now optimised for Mixed Mode Operations. Watch our video to find out more.

A Controller using Intelligent Approach


Intelligent Approach can deliver the following key benefits to an airport operation:


Enables choice in how to exploit existing runway and airspace infrastructure whilst increasing the available tactical capacity.


Reduced fuel burn and emissions through improved predictability and reduced airborne holding.


Increased on-time performance meaning reduced delays, reduced costs, and happier passengers.


Increased revenue by enabling additional capacity.

Airport growth

Supports airport growth plans at a fraction of the cost of major capital investment.

Case study

Intelligent Approach is now fully integrated into Heathrow Airport, Toronto Airport and Schiphol Airport, with completely different environments and systems. We work directly with the airport’s Air Navigation Service Providers to ensure a seamless operation.

Intelligent Approach has been in continuous operation at Heathrow since March 2015. Benefits already achieved include an average tactical capacity gain of 2 aircraft landings per hour in all wind conditions, an improvement of 1.5-2.5% in airport punctuality and an average saving of over 1,410 seconds per day in arrival separation on final approach.

Find out more in our case study here.



Leidos is a Fortune 500® technology, engineering, and science solutions and services leader working to solve the world’s toughest challenges in the defense, intelligence, civil, and health markets.

The company’s 43,000 employees support vital missions for government and commercial customers. Headquartered in Reston, Virginia, Leidos reported annual revenues of approximately $13.7 billion for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021.

For more information, visit

Leidos HQ

Contact us

Please contact us using the form below and we'll be in touch to arrange a conversation.

  • By completing this form, you are consenting to NATS holding your personal information. For further details on how NATS manages your personal information please see our privacy notice.

Connect with us

You can also connect with us on our Social Media channels.


Please start typing and we will search our website for you.

Search Results