XMAN project : the first live trial tested between NATS and DSNA

A new operational procedure to cut the amount of time aircraft circle in ‘holding stacks’ at London Heathrow Airport is set to begin today.
Traditionally NATS, the UK’s air traffic service provider, has only been able to influence an arriving aircraft’s approach to Heathrow once it enters UK airspace – sometimes only 80 miles from the airport. This limits the opportunity to manage the flow of traffic and can result in additional time spent in the holding stacks.
From today, if delays in the Heathrow holding stacks begin to build, air traffic controllers in the Netherlands, France, Scotland and Ireland will be asked to slow down aircraft up to 350 miles away from London to help minimise delays on arrival.
The trial is being led by NATS in close cooperation with French air traffic control provider, DSNA, the Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre and Prestwick Control Centre, with the aim of cutting average holding times by at least a quarter from the current time of just under 8 minutes.