Air traffic to and from Schiphol airport is predicted to rise to 510,000 flights a year by 2020, providing established environmental limitations are not exceeded. NLR is assessing whether this growth is feasible within legal environmental restrictions and within airport and airspace capacity.

All predictions for international air traffic point towards steady growth. This means welcome economic growth for Schiphol. But the increase in air traffic also presents a challenge in terms of runway capacity and increasing noise nuisance. The Alders Platform, a consultative body of stakeholders for the Netherlands national airport, is also currently working on a new noise enforcement system around Schiphol. As agreed in the Alders Platform, the number of aircraft movements to and from Schiphol will be allowed to rise to 510,000 flights a year by 2020, subject to compliance with legal restrictions. These restrictions pertain, for example, to the number of dwellings exposed to high levels of noise nuisance and the number of severely annoyed people in the airport vicinity.

In 2011, NLR began work on a research assignment commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment to determine whether this growth is feasible within the legal restrictions. The project takes into account a number of planned changes to Dutch airspace and flight destinations as well as fleet development and the extension of the period during which ‘continuous descent approaches’ are flown towards Schiphol. First, ‘fast-time’ simulations will be executed that simulate increasing traffic flows around Schiphol in the course of one day. These will give an initial insight into the burden on airspace and Schiphol’s runways. After this noise nuisance levels and aircraft movement handling on an annual basis will be calculated. Based on these first two parts, issues and solutions will be identified that may lead to additional research.

NLR will analyse the results in collaboration with Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Schiphol Airport.

Take-off Airbus A340 for Schiphol Airport

NLR was commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment to assess whether this growth is feasible within legislated environmental constraints.