Air Traffic Management is changing. Its becoming cleaner, more consistent and more predictable. As part of that, we’ve been developing new airport approach capabilities that would have been impossible just a few years ago.

A melding of great engineering, analytics, and operational minds can create beautiful things. If airspace – well, landing space – can be described as such, it would definitely require a touch of Intelligent Approach to achieve it.

That’s what happened last month when the Intelligent Approach User Group – the world’s Time Based Separation trailblazers – met to share their experiences of integrating this transformative ATM technology into their existing air traffic systems, preparing for transitions and to discuss ideas for future features and enhancements.

For those that don’t know, Intelligent Approach is our arrivals spacing tool that helps airports and ANSPs deliver improved runway capacity and resilience by tailoring the spacing between aircraft.

Both LVNL and NAV CANADA had the chance to visit the London Terminal Control operations room, ahead of Intelligent Approach going live at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol early next year.

The User Group brought together the creators of Intelligent Approach – us and Leidos – our customers who are already using a live system, and new users – those who are in the early stages of planning for their transition to Intelligent Approach.  In short – as a service provider, it’s a bit like getting all of your Trip Advisor commentators together and asking them to tell you – and each other – live and in person, what they really think.

There was a real sense of mentoring in the room, with everyone discussing ideas for improving Intelligent Approach based on live data, their own experiences and wish lists.  There is also a feeling of anticipation. We know we are on the cusp of some big changes that will provide benefits to everyone.

A common theme was to be able to plan even further ahead. “How can it be even earlier – can we have separation markers earlier on the approach?” asked Bram de Bruin of LVNL (which is due to go live with Intelligent Approach at Schiphol early next year). Fortunately, the question isn’t rhetorical.  Pairwise Separation and Early Separation Indicators are two enhancements for Intelligent Approach on the horizon.  Shona Chalmers and Norm Easter – Intelligent Approach Superusers – said it best: “Intelligent Approach makes our jobs easier. Early Separation Indicators, the next big development, will make improved performance inevitable as we will have the data we need even earlier.”

Intelligent Approach can be configured for single runway, mixed mode, segregated mode, and simultaneous mixed mode runways. Product developments and improvements – including Pairwise Separation and Early Separation Indicators – are in the works.

Our first User Group meeting was a great success. It was great to get everyone together – especially after the last couple of years – to hear their reflections and ideas. The most positive thing was hearing how everyone was benefiting from Intelligent Approach, from the ATCO experience through to commercially and ultimately, environmentally.

Where it will go next and comparing how each member has capitalised on its benefits is next on our agenda.


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Andrew Shand

Fantastic product and team doing TBS/Intelligent Approach. Looking forward to see it roll out to some new airports and go live at Schiphol. All the best Andy


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