TopFlight Trial Looks Successful
UK ATC provider NATS said last week that the first practical trial of the TopFlight air traffic management system (ATM) successfully delivered the expected level of flight efficiencies. TopFlight is a key element in Europe’s Sesar next-generation ATM system, similar to the U.S. NextGen program. A NATS official reported at the Air Traffic Management.net website that gate-to-gate travel times measured for 100 British Airways flights across the North Atlantic using the new system saved up to half a ton of fuel per flight. With TopFlight, crews received their oceanic profiles before departure, used continuous climb and descent profiles and direct routings, more flexible oceanic clearances where possible, including using military airspace. In all cases engine taxi times were kept to a minimum. Phase two of TopFlight begins this month with a trial aimed at reducing airborne holding time at London Heathrow. During the three-month test, arriving aircraft will be slowed en route to London by controllers in France, the Netherlands, Scotland and Ireland.