Toronto switches to time-based approach 

The Canadian hub is the first North American airport to use the technique

Toronto/Pearson has become the first airport in North America to adopt a time-based separation system for arriving aircraft. The Canadian hub’s air navigation service provider, NAV CANADA, has introduced the tool following assistance from UK counterpart NATS, who pioneered the use of Intelligent Approach at London/Heathrow in 2015.

NAV CANADA states that the new technology, rolled out at the end of May, adds “additional tactical capacity across the airport’s five runways and will help reduce delays, fuel burn and CO2 emissions, particularly in high wind conditions.”

It continued, explaining that: “Intelligent Approach is a tool that helps deliver better on-time performance by optimising the spacing between arriving aircraft. Jointly developed by NATS and Leidos, the system dynamically calculates the optimum time interval between arrivals based on live weather data and the aircraft type rather than relying on set distances. It then translates that into a graphical marker on a controller’s radar screen, helping to improve spacing consistency and maintain the landing rate even in strong headwinds.”

Mark Cooper, NAV CANADA’s vice president, chief technology and information officer, added: “NAV CANADA continues to collaborate with key partners, such as NATS and Leidos, to bring about the innovations to our processes and systems, such as the Intelligent Approach at Toronto Pearson, that we need to increase our operational efficiency and effectiveness.”

Intelligent Approach was first introduced at Heathrow Airport seven years ago, where the use of time-based separation, as a way of maintaining the landing rate, has cut headwind related delays by 62%.

Guy Adams, NATS strategy and commercial director, said: "Delivering Intelligent Approach for Toronto during a global pandemic has been an enormous team effort across NAV CANADA, NATS and Leidos. As the industry now begins to recover from the impact of Covid, it has never been more important for airports to make the very best of their existing infrastructure. We look forward to Intelligent Approach delivering even better on time performance and operational resilience at Canada's busiest airport.”

Graham Emmons, vice president, managing director civil UK at Leidos, said: “The collaboration on the Toronto deployment through the pandemic is testament to our partnership with NATS and the resilience of all those involved. We look forward to a successful and continued relationship with NAV CANADA.”

NATS and Leidos – instrumental in the rolling out of Intelligent Approach at Toronto/Pearson – are also working with Dutch air traffic service provider, LVNL, to support the deployment of Intelligent Approach for Schiphol Airport.