The work presented in this paper was conducted as part of the CLEAN-FLIGHT project which is financed by the Malta Council for Science and Technology through the National Research and Innovation Programme 2011 (Grant Agreement R&I-2011-021).
Traditionally, aircraft descend from cruise level towards the aerodrome in a stepped manner as directed by Air Traffic Control to ensure safe separation between aircraft, particularly in the terminal area. A descent methodology that is now being preferred is that of optimised profile descents (OPD). In OPDs, the aircraft descends from the top-of-descent (TOD) point towards the aerodrome following a smooth, continuous descent profile that is optimal from an operational perspective of choice, until it intersects the final approach glide path such as that of the Instrument Landing System (ILS). OPDs are advantageous because they consume less fuel and generate fewer emissions than their stepped counterparts. This paper presents a proposal of new approach procedures for use in the approaches to Malta International Airport (MIA) that will facilitate the introduction of OPDs. With around 28,000 aircraft movements per annum at MIA, this can be achieved by giving Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs) a selection of approach procedures on which to direct in-trail inbound and outbound aircraft without imposing altitude constraints. The discussion includes a study of current procedures, a statistical analysis of historical radar plots, the presentation of the proposed approaches, and a forecast of the potential gains in terms of fuel burn and emissions expected through fast-time simulation.
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