Why is the SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU) wary of consultants?

On 30/11/2010, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

OK, you may say that consultants have made a bad name for themselves and you would be partially right. In some industries some of them have and we all suffer the consequences to some degree. But on the other hand, many companies have found considerable cost savings in the use of consultants who will perform tasks that would otherwise cost a fortune… and this is true even if consultants are not cheap themselves.

But why is the SJU so diametrically opposed to the use of consultants that they have told everyone, the airlines and their associations included, right at the beginning and have repeated it many times since, that they may not use consultants to represent them in the SESAR tasks?

You may say the following is conjecture but it is logical and the only reasonable explanation of a totally unreasonable attitude on the part of the SJU.

When the airline industry first faced what was to become a series of financial crises, including the effects of 9/11, they responded by cutting costs across the board. This translated also into reducing their staff engaged in attending to activities like air traffic management. All of a sudden airline representatives all but disappeared from EUROCONTROL meetings and the airspace user influence on ATM developments was automatically reduced to fire fighting and some shouting on the policy level… with predictably meager results.

When SESAR came along, the airline industry was suddenly faced with the opportunity of a lifetime to improve things… except that they lacked the knowledgeable manpower to represent them on an H24 basis. There were of course excellent airline experts still around and those were promptly brought onto the firing line but almost none of them were all-round experts who were at home equally in airline and ATM operations.

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Fatigue manifestations

On 29/11/2010, in SKYbrary News, by steve

News from EUROCONTROL’s aviation safety knowledge base SKYbrary.

The Operators Guide to Human Factors in Aviation (OGHFA) is a project of the Flight Safety Foundation European Advisory Committee. OGHFA is an extensive compendium of human factors information focused on further advancing commercial aviation safety.

The Briefing Note (BN) “Fatigue Manifestations” explores some of the causes, manifestations and consequences of pilot fatigue. It also outlines the basics of fatigue management and discusses how fatigue management is important to flight safety during both long-range flight (LRF) and short-range flight (SRF).

Read more about this important subject here.


Trajectory based operations (TBO) – still not properly understood in SESAR?

On 26/11/2010, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

Following Henning’s article about the fate of the original SESAR Concept of Operations (CONOPS), I received a slew of mails basically confirming his point of view and worries. Of particular concern seems to have been a document dealing with trajectory management…

People who had seen this document were of the opinion that it was little more than a reiteration of the legacy way of working with no visible attempt to bring things in line with the spirit, let alone the words, of the CONOPS.

Why am I not surprised?

During the definition phase we had a very hard time getting people to understand why the legacy system, based on managing airspace and massaging individual aircraft left and right had to give way to something else that took a broader view than is the event horizon of a controller working his or her sector.

The concept of trajectory based operations (one of the mainstays of NextGen also) does exactly that. The system is run on the basis of managing trajectories end to end with situational awareness shared by all concerned and hence both strategic and tactical decisions being aligned, safety permitting, with the business intentions of the owners of the trajectories. Airspace is shaped to allow the undistorted inclusion of the trajectories rather than trajectories being bent to fit the airspace.

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Getting Knighted for merits in navigation -Theo van de Ven

On 25/11/2010, in Interesting people, by steve

Those who have met Theo van de Ven of KLM will remember him as a gentle guy who nevertheless knows full well what he is about. Always ready to help and to explain things he is the ultimate teacher who is always remembered by his pupils and colleagues alike.

He is currently working at KLM’s ATM Strategy and Charges department which is a part of Flight Ops in Amsterdam.

18 November Theo was giving a presentation to the CROS (Schiphol Regional Coordination Commission) and when he finished, to his huge surprised, the Mayor of Haarlemmermeer, acting on behalf of the Queen, elevated him to the title of Knight in the Order of Orange Nassau. He was awarded this honor for his extraordinary contribution to the progress of aeronautical navigation.

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Inside a jet engine

On 24/11/2010, in Safety is no accident, by phil

If, like me, you are wondering what goes on inside a jet engine the site below from Rolls Royce might help. As a pilot I merely used the thing, in my case four Rolls Royce RB211-524s on a Boeing 747-200 and very good they were too.

I also had a flight engineer who helped by ensuring that I didn’t do anything too stupid! Nowadays though, with FMS and FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) the computers do it all. One no longer has to set the power manually, while making small adjustments to ensuring that neither the N1, N2, N3 nor EGT limits were exceeded.

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Equipping for NextGen – where does the cash come from?

On 24/11/2010, in NextGen, by steve

If anything, the LINK2000+ program in Europe has shown what a bit of free cash can achieve. Equipping aircraft for Controller/Pilot Digital Link Communications, the raison d’être of LINK2000+, was proving difficult as in the initial phases those who spent on the required avionics would see few benefits and hence there were no takers. Then, with part of the money coming from EC funds things suddenly took off and some 700 aircraft got promoted to CPDLC-enabled status.

But the funds needed to equip for NextGen (and SESAR for that matter) far exceed the budget of LINK2000+ yet the vicious circle of low initial benefits, reluctance to equip is exactly the same. It now looks that at least for NexGen, a novel solution is being offered for funding avionics upgrades.

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A-CDM project launched in Vienna – about time too!

On 23/11/2010, in CDM, by steve

If you read my rants and raves (here and here) about how collaborative decision making (CDM) was not really working in Vienna, you will be surprised to hear that there is in fact a CDM team there, imaginatively called CDM@VIE and they had a kick-off event with 60 or so participants on 6 September this year. None too soon I would say.

At the kick-off event handling, stand and gate coordination, airline and terminal management, slot coordination and General Aviation were all represented. Controllers from Austro Control were there and representatives of Austrian Airlines, Fly Niki and Fraport also turned up.

EUROCONTROL presented the basics of CDM and the Vienna team introduced their project. Thereafter, 20 experts attended a two day train-the-trainer course. This is strange of course… How many people are dealing with CDM in Vienna if they need 20 trainers?

Anyway, based on recent experience, they will have their tasks cut out for them. If they succeed, with a bit of luck, we will no longer have to go through security twice within 10 minutes and mad rushes between gates will also be a thing of the past.


Would I fly on an Airbus A380?

On 22/11/2010, in Safety is no accident, by phil

YES, you bet I would! If there is one thing that the Qantas incident in Singapore has shown it is that this aircraft has a huge amount of redundancy built into its systems. And when the full accident investigation has been completed it will be even safer. The whole nature of civil aviation is one of continuous improvement.

To date, there has been little official information regarding all the circumstances, particularly concerning the damage sustained and the crew’s performance. This is not surprising – we should not rely on rumour, we need substantiated facts. The ATSB who are investigating this major incident have been a model of how information should be made available. Check this out here.

Both Rolls Royce and Airbus have provided some information but, for good reason, this has been limited at this stage. The ATSB has stated that they expect to be able to issue an interim report in early December.

Meanwhile Airbus has issued this AIT:

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Do it yourself security in Vienna

On 22/11/2010, in CDM, by steve

Mind you, I do like Vienna Airport in Austria. It is a nice place which has managed to stay small in spite of becoming bigger. I also do fly from Vienna a lot and so perhaps it is unfair when I come with another story of a passenger handling hiccup… you know, big numbers and all that.

A while ago, I told you the story of SN flight 2908 and this time here is the story of SN 2906.

On arrival at the airport, I saw that the gate assigned to this flight was C31. In order to understand the circumstances, you need to know that in Terminal C of Vienna airport, they do security on a gate by gate basis. There are fair sized holding areas for each gate just off the main concourse and you access these via the well known metal detectors and X-ray machines for your hand luggage.

The main concourse in Vienna Terminal C

When I got to C31, they were processing the passengers for a flight going to Hamburg, departure time 17.35. On the monitor screen in the “Next flights” section, SN 2906 was shown with its departure time of 18.15. You needed good eyes to spot this information and clearly, passengers arriving at the gate had some trouble spotting their flight number. They were all confused by the big letters proclaiming that this was the gate for Hamburg (and also Brussels if you looked close enough…).

For me, those small letters spelled disaster. At 17.20, the last of the stray Hamburg passengers were still rushing through security and there was obviously no way for the flight to push back on time and vacate the gate for the incoming Brussels Airlines Avro RJ100. But apparently the guys allocating the gates were more optimistic than me…

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EASA and SESAR to cooperate closely in future

On 21/11/2010, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

On 10 November 2010, the Executive Directors of the SESAR Joint Undertaking and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Patrick Ky and Patrick Goudou, signed cooperation and working arrangements to secure EASA’s support regarding the implementation of the SESAR work programme. EASA’s expertise is sought in different domains, including impact analysis of new concepts on the rulemaking, oversight and certification activities of EASA; advice on methodologies for the acceptable elaboration of safety deliverables (safety cases, safety assessments…); review of these safety deliverables and issue of opinions; or the assessment of ‘certifiability’ of future systems/services derived from SESAR concepts. Additionally, the Agency will provide input in different work packages and will participate in updating the ATM Master Plan as well as the regulatory and standardisation roadmaps. “EASA’s cooperation is good news for SESAR and especially for our members developing the new ATM procedures and technologies. The Agency’s involvement will ensure compliance with highest safety standards which will in return facilitate the certification process”, said Patrick Ky after signing the working arrangement. The participation of Eurocontrol’s safety experts is foreseen to support EASA in this activity. To that end, the agreements have been sent to the Director-General of Eurocontrol, David McMillan, for acceptance.


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