Heathrow hopes to reduce flight delays

28 Apr 2014

Heathrow Airport is taking steps to minimise flight delays and speed up its internal systems for processing passengers.

Recommendations made by the Independent Airports Commission will see Heathrow become the first site to manage its arriving flights based on time rather than distance.

Air traffic control operator NATS will be responsible for rolling out the changes which will be introduced early next year.

"We're pleased that NATS have accelerated the roll-out of this new system at Heathrow," Heathrow's Director of Airside Operations Derek Provan said.

"It will help us keep the flights landing safely and on time during strong head winds, ultimately benefiting passengers and local communities."

A flight takes off or lands every 45 seconds in normal conditions at Heathrow. During periods of strong wind aircraft are often required to fly more slowly, increasing the time between arrivals.

Heathrow's schedule is so busy that spare slots do not exist for the scheduling of delayed flights. This means the airport is often forced to operate services late into the night or cancel them completely.

The system is designed to minimise delays and cancellations by enabling aircraft to land closer together and could cut flight disruptions by more than 1,300 hours per annum.