Capacity assessment

ATS can expect immediate benefits from RECAT-EU deployment in terms of runway capacity (increased throughput) and operational efficiency:

  • The runway throughput benefits can reach 5% or more during peak periods depending on individual airport traffic mix. The following analysis is based on 2012 real traffic data for 8 main European airports; the names of those airports have been anonymised.

As shown in the figure, the capacity increase is different in every airport as a function of the traffic mix. RECAT-EU provides an increase of capacity between the range [1.5%, 6.7%]

  • The gain in capacity could even increase further by 2020 due to the evolution of traffic mix. Indeed, the benefits are expected to further increase over time as the overall fleet mix is forecasted to evolve towards larger aircraft, a mitigation for the lack of runway capacity foreseen in EUROCONTROL’s 2013 ‘Challenges to Growth’ study. The same assessment on capacity increase is then repeated for the 2017, after 5 years of traffic mix evolution.

Arrival throughput increase enabled by RECAT-EU with predicted 2017 traffic mix during morning peak period

With the 2017 traffic mix, the second figure shows that RECAT-EU could provide an increase of capacity in a range of [3.1%, 8.1%]. This is a consequence of the progressive replacement of aircraft by heavier models in the 2012 traffic mix (e.g., A380, A350, B77X replacing B767, A310, MD11 but also A320, B737NG replacing regional jets). 

  • RECAT-EU will also enable more rapid recovery from adverse conditions, helping to reduce the overall delay and will also enable improvements in ATFM slot compliance through the flexibility afforded by reduced departure separations. With resilience we refer to the capacity to recover the delays imposed by constrained situations at the airport. In order to illustrate the enhanced resilience introduced by RECAT-EU, the following scenario has been analysed:  typically observed pressure of 50 arrivals in 2 hours of morning peak on one runway is  limited by Low-Visibility Procedures (LVP) conditions to 20 arrivals per hour. The LVP constraint is relaxed at the end of the peak.  The recovering time (defined as the time needed to get back to the initial planning) and the sum of minutes are measured using the historical ICAO scheme and then using RECAT-EU scheme.


The third figure illustrates the enhanced resilience resulting from the use of RECAT-EU in terms of recovering time and cumulated delay for 4 airports. Only 50% of the airports analysed in terms of added capacity were considered because of the extended amount of time required to run the resilience simulation

  • For an equivalent throughput, RECAT-EU also allows a reduction of the overall flight time for an arrival or departure sequence of traffic, and this is beneficial to the whole traffic sequence. This may offer more flexibility to the Controllers to manage the traffic.