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Air traffic controllers at Leipzig Halle Airport are using a new procedure to safely guide more aircraft to land within a shorter period of time. DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung, the German air navigation service provider, has conducted trial operations for one year to test the procedure. The procedure enables three additional approaches per hour.
The procedure is called RECAT-EU. It involves a modified categorisation of wake turbulence separation minima between successive aircraft. Wake turbulence is created behind aircraft – the higher the aircraft mass, the stronger the turbulence. This means that succeeding aircraft require a specific distance in order to avoid the turbulence.
Currently, there are four wake turbulence categories in use world-wide, namely Super, Heavy, Medium and Light. With RECAT-EU there are six categories. The increased number of categories reduces the minimum distances required between certain aircraft from four to three nautical miles. The new categorisation was developed after the introduction of the large Airbus A 380.
Leipzig Halle is the first airport in Germany and the third airport in Europe to introduce this air traffic control procedure, after Paris Charles de Gaulle and London Heathrow.
Leipzig Halle is the second largest air cargo hub in Germany. Last year, approximately 1.14 million tonnes of cargo were handled there. The airport experiences particularly high levels of traffic in the evening and at night.
The introduction of RECAT-EU is one of many measures taken by DFS to respond to the growth in air traffic. The procedure will be introduced at further German airports.
DFS is also working on a procedure called time-based separation, which makes it possible to maintain regular separation between landing aircraft even in the case of heavy wind. When combined with RECAT-EU, this procedure promises further capacity increases in the approach phase.