Airservices is Australia's air navigation service provider - we provide air traffic control, aviation rescue and fire fighting and air navigation services.

Airport Capacity Enhancement

Airport Capacity Enhancement (ACE) is a national program commissioned by Airservices to address the growing demand at Australia’s major airports – Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and most recently ACE has been established in Adelaide. ACE is known as the Sydney ATM Strategic Planning Group (SASPG) in Sydney.

ACE identifies opportunities to improve the efficiency and use of existing infrastructure in order to increase runway capacity, that is, it aims to maximise the airport’s latent capacity. This involves improving processes and practices of ATC, airport operators and airlines. Changes and improvements to infrastructure can also be considered, but optimising existing infrastructure is the initial objective.

ACE follows the European ACE model and is based on a principal of broad collaboration and cooperation within the airport community to address the challenge of airport congestion and delay. Within the Australian aviation environment, ACE is led by Airservices.

There are three common themes to the program:

  1. Harmonisation: Increasing efficiency must be in harmony with current Australian standards and practices, while providing sufficient room for the development of local procedures.
  2. Collaboration: Every movement matters and every second counts. Over many movements, the seconds add up to create additional capacity that in turn can reduce delays. The benefits are shared by all and can be achieved collaboratively.
  3. Performance management: Performance must be monitored and measured in order to tactically manage improvement in ATC and pilot performance. By measuring performance, new methods can be assessed and refined.

Safety remains the aviation industry’s over-riding priority. ACE introduces measures that improve the overall safety by ensuring smooth, planned operations with enhanced situational awareness.

In consultation with airlines & ATC, the ACE program has progressed from initially providing general information about the objectives of the program to developing specific procedures and expectations to drive the delivery of capacity improvements.

Strategic Plans

Strategic Plans were developed for each participating airport focusing on:

  • Improving arrival spacing
  • Standardising terminal arrival speeds
  • Reducing runway occupancy times and pilot response times
  • Improving communication between airport partners

Many of these improvement initiatives have been completed, and a summary of the performance improvements were identified in Operational Performance Assessments undertaken by UK NATS at Brisbane in February 2014 and at Melbourne and Perth in October 2014.

Brisbane  Brisbane Strategic Plan and Roadmap version 1.0 (669kb)  Progress Report–October 2016 (82kb)
Perth  Perth Strategic Plan and Roadmap version 1.1 (929kb)  Progress Report – September 2016 (203kb)
Melbourne  Melbourne Strategic Plan and Roadmap version 1.1  (713kb)  Progress Report – October 2016 (71kb)
Sydney  Sydney Strategic Plan version 1.0 (873kb)
Adelaide  Strategic Plan (277kb)
 Terms of Reference (142kb)


A number of operational performance requirements associated with important capacity and efficiency initiatives are now procedures in AIP/DAP:

  • Airport Efficiency in DAP for ML, BN, SY, PH. This is a page devoted to expected pilot behaviour and performance on the RWY and includes preferred exit taxiways for arriving aircraft.
  • Standard Terminal Area Arrival Speeds (STAAS) for ML, BN, SY, PH and AD (AIP ENR 1.5 – 45 para 11). The objective is to provide predictable spacing and speeds on final, optimising arrival sequencing and assisting efficient departure management.
  • Feeder Fix Flow (AIP ENR 1.9 – 5 para 4).  Details feeder fix flow and provides expectations in regard to accuracy of the aircraft’s time over feeder fix.

The Network Coordination Centre (NCC) provides information to help measure and monitor the effectiveness of ATFM and ACE activities. The NCC Portal now includes the following reports:

  • Airport Performance Reports
  • ATFM Compliance
  • Perth Departure Compliance
  • aROT Reports (BN, SY, ML, PH)
  • STAAS Reports (BN, SY, ML, PH, AD)

Operational Performance Improvements

As well as the initiatives included in the Strategic Plans, ACE/SASPG undertakes a number of other improvement initiatives. The performance improvements and achievements are summarised below.

Performance Improvements (as at 7 June 2016)

Location Peak no. of mvts/hour aROT
Brisbane +6.80% (total movements) 10.9% (5 second improvement than 2012 benchmark)
Melbourne +8.3% (dep) +4.5% (arr) -11.3% (0.4 second better than 2012 benchmark)
Perth +2.9% (dep) +9.5% (arr) -4.1%
Sydney Not avail Not avail.

Traffic Holding Fuel Advisory Review 2015/6

Brisbane 5 min reduction to MON-FRI AM and PM peak, 5 min increase to SAT PM period
Melbourne Reduced to:

DAILY 2100-2300 (1 HR Earlier HDS): All Traffic 15MIN.

DAILY 2300-0700 (1 HR Earlier HDS): All Traffic 10MIN.

DAILY 0700-1200  (1 HR Earlier HDS): All Traffic 15MIN

Perth During 2013 the promulgated traffic holding was 30 mins and in Dec 2013 was reduced to 20 mins. The reduction reflected the effectiveness of the ACE and ATFM initiatives and in Dec 2014 was further reduced to 15 mins. In Dec 2015, traffic holding during the peak shoulder periods was reduced to 10 mins.

Other Achievements for 2015/16

Brisbane Spacing between aircraft across runway threshold: • -9.6% (arr-arr) • -4.6% (arr-dep-arr) • -8.9% (dep-dep) Arrival compression procedure (Pack & Gap) to be incorporated into the next revision of Brisbane TCU & Brisbane Tower operating instructions.

2.5NM reduced runway separation standard implemented

2400m reduced runway separation standard implemented

Melbourne Issue of SID RADAR to non-jet departures implemented. 3nm spacing between successive departures implemented.

A MAESTRO based stagger for LAHSO was introduced on 10 March 16. Night LAHSO reintroduced 22nd April.

Perth Significant reduction in peak departure and arrival delays largely attributed to introducing schedule coordination. Increased capacity and utilisation of the RWY21/24 crossing arrival mode during the peak evening period when RAAF not active. Arrival rate RWY21 after 6 PM increased to 25 (from 24).

Transmissometers will provide lower approach minima and improved ground traffic flow during LVO. Installation complete, awaiting BoM approval)

Implementation of additional APP frequency, new airspace volume and procedures have delivered enhanced sequencing capability RWY 03 and 06.

New STARS with multiple instrument terminations introduced March 2016 have reduced the complexity and variability of the terminal area for both flight crew and controllers. Less STARS provide more instrument termination options. .

Monthly STAAS performance reports were created for Perth and are now promulgated for BN, ML, SY and AD.

Sydney SEMAP (Sydney Early Morning Arrival Procedure) implemented to manage the heavy arrival demand between 0600 and 0700L.

Delay data shows downward trend in airborne delays (year on year) and less traffic congestion, i.e. flights being spread evenly.

Enabled noise sharing modes to be applied (As at 19 May 15, noise sharing mode applied on 8 out of 44 of days=18%).

ATFM procedure (SEMAP) to manage early morning arrivals for NS2016 implemented

Commenced review of ACA Slot Guidelines for Sydney Airport.


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