Around 26,000 planes fly over Europe every day, and this number is rapidly increasing.
To ensure safety and efficiency in such a densely populated air space, The European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation, Eurocontrol, has requested more precise take-off scheduling.
At Arlanda, Stockholm’s international airport, the air traffic controllers were using old systems that required a lot of manual work. This resulted in airplanes having to wait in taxi lines or not taking off as scheduled, wasting a lot of time and tons of fuel.
Our task was to create an entirely new Departure Sequencing Tool (DST) that would increase departure efficiency without disrupting the workflow.
Extreme safety demands and carefully established routines make the air traffic controllers quite cautious when it comes to change.
We understood early that we had to collaborate with the entire team to succeed in this project. We started by asking them detailed questions about everything: Do you really need this information? Who do you talk to when this happens? Do you sit or do you stand? Everyone didn’t really like this from the start because they had already handed out the requirements to us and wanted us to act upon that.
However, as we started to uncover more of their latent needs, they quickly realized the benefits.
We invited the air traffic controllers to come up with ideas and evaluate them together with us. Through sketches and prototypes with real-time simulated data we iteratively evolved the project until we had a final solution that very much exceeded their expectations.
The result is an entirely new type of intelligent system, smart enough to plan the take-off sequences with great precision.
By layering the information based on importance we reduced clutter by 2/3, leaving the DST with a sleek, toned down UI that displays an easy glanceable status update of the flights planned for takeoff.
Predefined functions add fast ways to plan or quickly add events like snow sweeping and departure frequency. Any manual change automatically reschedules upcoming departures or moves the traffic to alternate runways. The actions are immediately communicated to the airline handling agents, pilots and other concerned personnel.
The new system is currently implemented and used around the clock at Arlanda.
Since we implemented the Departure Sequencing Tool one year ago it’s helped us reduce the workload, and improve the traffic flow of our departure aircrafts. It’s easy, it’s simple, it’s user friendly.
The precise scheduling allows the airplanes to drive straight from their parking spots to the runway for take-off, eliminating long taxi lines. This has decreased error margins from 10 to 5 minutes
A one-minute reduction of the time per aircraft, per year, will give us approximately 2 million tons Co2 reduction every year.
Comfort has also increased for passengers with significantly less time spent in taxi before takeoff.
Thanks to a close collaboration with the users we were able to truly optimize the system to meet the demands of Eurocontrol and the needs of the people using it, which led to a vastly increased departure efficiency, saving the passangers time and saving our environment.