Point Merge successfully implemented in Dublin

25 January 2013

Since 2006, EUROCONTROL has been at the forefront of Point Merge System’s (PMS*) research and development. PMS is an innovative method using new air traffic management techniques to assist airlines in flying continuous descent operations (CDO), permitting the aircraft to reduce 85kgs per flight on average. 

Avinor (Norway) pioneered live operations in 2011. The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) performed the latest introduction of Point Merge on Runway 28 at Dublin on 13th December 2012. Building on R&D, EUROCONTROL has provided continuous support, including simulations, human factors studies, capacity analyses and airspace design, throughout the implementation process.

A diagram of the Dublin Point Merge System is shown below.  Rather than using traditional holding stacks the system involves placing arriving aircraft onto defined equidistant arcs or tracks, from which they can make a continuous descent to the runway. Thereby, both the overall track miles flown by the aircraft and associated CO2 emissions are reduced.

Initial feedback from airlines and controllers has been extremely encouraging.  As an example, the enhanced systemisation provided byPMS has enabled controllers to offer more aircraft direct routes and continuous descent approaches, even during the peak arrival flows. Indeed since 13th December, thanks to the improved situational awareness resulting from Point Merge, 87% of arrivals on runway 28 have been afforded the most efficient descent trajectories possible.

From the controller viewpoint, the more intuitive way in which they operate Point Merge has been observed. They have also benefited from enhanced situational awareness and reduced radio frequency transmissions, both of which increasing availability for  tactical instructions.

A further period of performance measurement, review and, where necessary, refinement of the Point Merge procedures is now underway, before the IAA decides on plans to extend Point Merge to the other runways at Dublin.

* primarily developed at the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre

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