Programme of Investigation of runway CAPacity (PICAP)

Precise knowledge of the factors that affect airport runway operations is essential to ensure that ATM capability matches, as rigourously as possible, true operational levels, and thus obtain specific figures that make it possible to provide optimum satisfaction of users' needs. With this mission, in 1997, the Programme of Investigation of runway CAPacity (PICAP) was officially initiated by ENAIRE's ATM Operations Management, although the first study was carried out in 1996 at Madrid-Barajas airport.

This activity is carried out by ENAIRE's Air Traffic Control Airport Operations Management Division, in close collaboration with the private entity Ineco. Their line of action is based on the principles of process transparency and participation of all the parties involved in airport operations

PICAP requirements

Until 1997, Spanish airport ATM capability figures were based, primarily, on airport operation managers' experiences, using theoretical calculations. However, this method was not satisfactory, mainly because it did not match the high level of service ENAIRE was required to offer.

Therefore, to cater in a more appropriate manner to the continuous growth in traffic demand at the airports in our country, there was a need to create a methodology capable of supplying not only more precise data and a better understanding of airport operations than was already available, but also assessment for decision making concerning ATM capability, based on real data.

The successful result of this was that, through the application of this new methodology, it became possible to obtain real measurements of different aspects related to runway operations. It became possible to identify "bottleneck" situations, and base the operational improvement proposals on simulation processes that could be presented to the management as an aid to decision making.

PICAP objectives

  • Obtain in-depth knowledge of airport operations.
  • Identify critical aspects in the following areas: 
    • Air traffic control techniques and procedures. 
    • Aircraft operation procedures. 
    • Infrastructures and facilities.
  • Propose measures designed to optimise ATM capability and the quality of the services provided at the airport.
  • Provide assessment for decision making concerning ATM capability.
  • Achieve maximum effectiveness in the use of procedures and infrastructures, at a minimum cost.
  • Establish and evaluate the alternatives for medium- and long-term development.
  • Achieve the participation and co-operation of all those involved in airport operations (collaborative decision making).


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