Introducing a second runway at Dublin Airport

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This simulation demonstrated that the new concept of operations developed to operate Dublin Airport with a second parallel runway is workable and will cope with the predicted traffic increase. The simulation also demonstrated that use of the existing Point Merge System supports the new environment.

Traffic growth in Dublin

Dublin Airport traffic has grown significantly in recent years, outstripping the peak figures experienced prior to the economic downturn in 2009. Latest forecasts show that future demand cannot be sustained with the current single runway. Dublin Airport Authority therefore decided to construct a second parallel runway for initial operation in early 2021. The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) developed a concept of operations for parallel runway operation within a reorganised TMA. For airport operations, the IAA has built a brand-new 87m high control tower, which is currently the most shining evidence of the challenging change which is taking place at Dublin airport.

A bespoke concept of operations

The new concept of operations addresses changes in procedures to facilitate three modes of independent parallel runway operation, flexibly adapted to the current traffic situation: (1) simultaneous parallel departures to absorb the morning departure peak, (2) simultaneous parallel arrivals for the evening arrival peak, and (3) segregated use with one runway for departures and the other for arrivals, for more evenly balanced periods. A central enabler is the reorganised TMA, consisting of new sector shapes, new SIDs and STARs, and the redefinition of controller roles.

Multi-tier validation

The overall validation of the new concept of operations was executed in several steps, with initial prototype simulations conducted in Dublin, followed by the full-scale real-time simulation at the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre (EEC) in Brétigny-sur-Orge. The whole sequence was enhanced by workshops and meetings at both sites. This proved to be a very efficient and successful approach to validating the new concept of operations.

The large real-time simulation – results

The real-time simulation took place at the EEC between 24 September and 10 October 2018. All modes of runway operations proved workable and were able to absorb the predicted traffic increase. However, the controllers did identify certain pre- implementation areas for refinement, particularly in the context of independent parallel arrivals.

The findings are based on comprehensive controller performance and acceptability feedback collected from sixteen active IAA controllers across eight exercise scenarios, which were repeated multiple times, adding up to 34 exercises in total. The exercise plan was carefully designed to cover a range of traffic situations and volumes of traffic. This challenged the robustness of the concept of operations and confronted the participating controllers with realistic conditions, which enabled them to best reflect on the consequences of the changed working environment on their performance.

Ag Tacú le hEitlíocht na hEorpa, le chéile, i mBaile Átha Cliath.

At a glance

Measured exercises

Air traffic controllers and experts

ATC Sectors covered



Stephen Byrne

Stephen Byrne

IAA Dublin Airport Station Manager

“The Brétigny simulations confirmed that our proposals to change the airspace in the Dublin CTA were workable and efficient for the airlines. Local simulations in Dublin laid the groundwork for the simulations in Bretigny and the EUROCONTROL team assisted in this element of the process to ensure the Real Time Simulations were fit for purpose. The EUROCONTROL team demonstrated how flexible they were to adapt their simulators to our needs, which led to them delivering a realistic simulation environment for the controllers to work with. Coupled with a thorough Human Factors examination, this led to a very successful simulation and validated our proposals for the introduction of the new airspace in conjunction with the new parallel runway in 2021. Mile Buiochas.”

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