Reduced passenger delays, improved airspace efficiency, and a reduction in fuel consumption, noise pollution and carbon emissions are among the main benefits being realised by the Transport Systems Catapult’s Departure Planning Information (DPI) Programme.
Watch a short video about the Departure Planning Information project:
With 2.2 million flights per year and global demand for air travel rising by nearly 6% annually, congestion in the UK’s air space is nearing capacity.
DPI was designed to respond to the challenge of more passengers and cargo – without increasing levels of CO2 emissions, fuel consumption and noise.
DPI is a pioneering air traffic communications protocol, enabling airports to share real-time updates on a flight’s departure status. TSC, in partnership with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the National Air Traffic Services (NATS), applied innovation and smart thinking to develop the software.
Prior to this software being available, air traffic professionals used basic flight plan data to assess the status of aircraft. This meant it was not always possible to know whether they were taxiing, at holding points or had departed. Often, this data was up to two hours old.
DPI software enables more efficient management of any flight due to the real-time accuracy of the data. The software has introduced huge improvements in take-off time accuracy, increased safety and efficiency, as well as getting aircraft to where they need to be on time.
Where installed, airline and airport professionals have noticed that DPI has made a considerable difference to the efficiencies of their systems. This includes less time spent absorbing delays in the air, increased on-time performance, a reduction in runway occupancy times and a major decrease in aircraft holding times. All of which lead to the following benefits assessed at around £40 million:
While the full extent of the operational improvements delivered by DPI is not yet known, all reasonable steps have been taken to quantify the potential economic benefits. Standard economic appraisal methods developed by EUROCONTROL, the UK Department for Transport (DfT) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have been used to complete the assessment.
The assumptions used to inform the assessment of potential benefits intend to provide a clear line of sight back to the operational changes that drive the improvements. The benefits estimates are extrapolated out to 2029 and are presented as a net present value in 2015 prices – designed to demonstrate the likely order of scale. TSC plans further work needed to test the assumptions and gather evidence to demonstrate their validity and accuracy.
Previously launched at Heathrow and Gatwick, DPI capability has now been successfully installed at London City, Stansted, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports, with Luton to follow shortly.
The next stage of DPI rollout will involve regional airports that do not yet use the A-CDM or EFPS air traffic control systems used by larger airports. By extending DPI capability from major international hubs to regional level airports, TSC is helping to put the UK at the forefront of European air space efficiency.