RECAT-EU is a new, categorisation of aircraft to complement the current ICAO one. It aims at safely increasing airport capacity by redefining wake turbulence categories and their associated separation minima. It divides the current Heavy and Medium categories into two sub-categories and creates a new Super Heavy one for the Airbus A380, creating five categories in total.
Wake vortex turbulence is defined as turbulence which is generated by the passage of an aircraft in flight. It will be generated from the point when the nose landing gear of an aircraft leaves the ground on take-off and will cease to be generated when the nose landing gear touches the ground during landing. Where another aircraft encounters such turbulence, a Wake Vortex Encounter (WVE) is said to have occurred.
Wake vortex generated by aircraft on departure or final approach is one of the main factors defining safe separation minima between two aircraft. Existing ICAO wake vortex separation rules (based upon the Heavy, Medium and Light categorisation) were implemented over 40 years ago and have in some respect become outdated, resulting in States introducing their own local amendments.
With the development of measuring technology, e.g. Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) and an increased understanding of the physics of wake behaviour it is now possible to update the ICAO wake vortex provisions and also develop new advanced wake turbulence related procedures. These will have a positive effect on safety and capacity and could significantly reduce airport delays.
Together with its partners, EUROCONTROL has developed the largest global wake database ever collected from Frankfurt, Paris and London. This, together with the better knowledge of wake behaviour, has enabled new metrics, taking into account both the strength of generated wake and an airframe’s ability to resist it. The proposals to implement these metrics, and associated standards, are termed (Re-categorisation of Wake Turbulence Separation Minima (RECAT).
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