4D Trajectory Management – What is this?

On 31/05/2012, in Buzzwords explained, by steve

The problem with traditional systems

In the traditional scheme of things, an aircraft will file a flight plan, containing a rather rudimentary description of its intentions. Air traffic management and air traffic control organizations then decipher the plan and create a trajectory for the flight as best they can… Very often this is but a poor image of what the airline concerned had in mind and then even this version is further distorted due to the need to limit sector loads or to provide separation.

We tend to think of the trajectory as being three dimensional but in fact the fourth dimension, time, is as important as the three spatial dimensions. This means that a delay on the ground is in fact a distortion of the trajectory which affects “only” the time dimension, but which can have serious consequences for the flight concerned.

Aircraft operators do develop the trajectories they want to fly taking many considerations into account and in the end, the trajectory represents their business intentions, the path on the ground and in the air they want to proceed along to ensure the most cost-effective conduct of their flight.

Traditional air traffic control is based on managing aircraft rather than trajectories. They do of course use the trajectory created in their systems from the flight plan to check ahead of the aircraft to see whether there is a conflict with another flight but this look-ahead is very short (in the order of 20 minutes or so) and tactical interventions rarely take into account their effect on the trajectory as a whole. Multi-sector planners are starting to appear but even these tend to have a limited scope and ability to keep the integrity of the trajectories intact.

Aircraft with sophisticated Flight Management Systems (FMS) can fly a trajectory with phenomenal accuracy but the prediction capability of the FMS is not always what it should be, especially because of shortcomings in the weather-modeling capability built into them.

Click here to read the full article


The Principles of the TITAN Tool GUI

On 26/05/2012, in TITAN, by steve

The current turnaround process involves many different entities performing many different operations and letting much inefficiency to arise. This may be attributed to lacking common situational awareness; inadequate information sharing and fragmented data flows. As a result readjustment of aircraft’s target off-block time is often unavoidable. By improving common situational awareness at the airport level, delay propagation from one turnaround sub-process to another or even to the turnaround process of another aircraft can be solved timely.

The TITAN concept addresses turnaround delay causes by recognizing that the turnaround process, which includes relevant landside processes too, is an integral part of the aircraft’s business trajectory. Such delays may arise from:
– poor information sharing;
– planning deviation;
– demanding security processes.

The TITAN concept takes advantage of Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) and System Wide Information Management (SWIM) concepts to combine information from multiple sources. In this way communication between turnaround stakeholders is getting improved enabling them to improve their own planning and execution by knowing when relevant milestones have been met. The TITAN tool is expected to be installed in an airport where CDM is already implemented; by connecting it to CDM systems it receives messages as input and sends messages when appropriate.

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Historic landing in Paris – 21 May 1927

On 21/05/2012, in Anniversaries, by steve

On 21 May 1927 Charles A. Lindbergh landed his Spirit of St Louis near Paris completing the first solo airplane flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 33 1/2 hours.

Lindbergh in paris

Here is a video recording the events around this historic feat.

The timeline of the flight went like this:

7:52am – Charles Lindbergh takes off from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, New York. The heavy plane, loaded with 450 gallons of fuel, clears telephone wires at the end of the runway by only 20 feet.
8:52am – Altitude: 500 ft. Wind velocity: 0 mph. Currently over Rhode Island. Except for some turbulence, the flight over Long Island Sound and Connecticut was uneventful. Only 3,500 miles to Paris.
9:52am – Boston lies behind the plane; Cape Cod is to the right. Altitude: 150 ft. Airspeed: 107 mph. Wind velocity: 0 mph. Click here to read the full article


ASBU – What is this?

On 21/05/2012, in Buzzwords explained, by steve

ICAO Aviation System Block Upgrades

Although air traffic demand is not growing evenely everywhere, almost no part of the world is without some kind of air traffic management modernization project. In terms of overall cutting edge concepts and technology plans, the US, Europe and Japan are the undisputed leaders. At the same time, other regions like Latin-America and Asia-Pacific have shown leadership in the early application of advanced solutions like PBN.

While in the past ATM improvements were based on an infrastructure that was standardized world-wide (like VOR/DME or ILS) some of the new concepts are predicated on infrastructure improvements and new aircraft equipment that sometimes exist in different flavors and not all are necessarily compatible.

Adoption of different flavor solutions in different parts of the world raise the specter of a loss of interoperability, a situation that is extremely costly for the airspace users to remedy or to accommodate.

Even perfectly interoperable solutions, if implemented with no or little coordination in different parts of the world, can lead to mandates that can only be met with difficulty and excessive cost that is otherwise avoidable if a more structured approach is used.

In the past, the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) reputation has suffered somewhat as a result of the extremely bureaucratic way it approached everything and the glacial paced decision making this entailed. At the same time, ICAO continued to be the only world-wide body which was empowered to say the last word on most of aviations air traffic management related provisions and hence there was no way of going around this mostly benign, but sometimes still belligerent giant. Regions keen on improving their ATM environment tried hard to progress even while ICAO lagged and this was leading to a situation where, in spite of its importance, in some aspects ICAO was becoming irrelevant.

But no more! Under new management at the top and mindful of the economic crisis affecting the air transport industry, ICAO has transformed itself into a cost-conscious, business oriented organization that does make a genuine effort to help ATM evolution along.

The first product was the ICAO Global Air Traffic Management Operational Concept (ICAO Doc 9854) which was significant because, for the first time, it actually formalized even concepts like the transfer of separation responsibility to the cockpit. By the way, most of what you find in Doc 9854 was first written up in the context of the European ATM modernization project ATM2000+.

Of course an operational concept as such is of little value until you define how the concept will be implemented and describe the changes in the ATM infrastructure that need to be realized for the concept to work.

Click here to read the full article


Disneyland or Cattle Ranch?

On 18/05/2012, in Airline corner, by steve

When Malev collapsed earlier this year, Budapest Ferihegy Airport saw a lot of its traffic disappear. Ryanair was quick to fill the vacuum but they ran into a number of unexpected problems. Downgrading quality is apparently as difficult as upgrading it…

Budapest Ferihegy Airport has two terminals. Terminal 1 is the old terminal and was used lately by the low-fare airlines. Terminal 2 A and B is the new facility, one of which was used exclusively by Malev and which was left vacant after the failure of the Hungarian airline.

When Ryanair arrived, they drove a hard bargain with the airport company and ended up using the former Malev part of Terminal 2 but! Ryanair does not use airbridges and passengers are supposed to walk to their aircraft wherever the low-fare airline operates. But those are typically second tier airports where the walking distance is limited. Not so at Ferihegy where the airport was built to use buses for the remote stands which are located quite some distance from the building itself.

I guess the managers of the airport and the security folks were breaking out in a cold sweat for several days when they imagined a 737 planeload of passengers trotting in the rain from the exit to the parked aircraft… some of them straying, others trying to come back… horrible! Clearly, something had to be done.

Well, the solution they came up with is what you see on the picture above. Depending on your temperament and experience, you might say this makes you feel like you were in Disneyland waiting to get on a new ride… or you will say this is not for people but only  for cattle.

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi!


Retro is in…

On 18/05/2012, in Picture stories, by steve

Painting aircraft in alliance colors is something agreed by the partners. Painting aircraft in an airline’s old livery is a decision they take themselves and to be honest, I like this latter a good deal more. The new paint schemes may be cute but some of the old ones still carry the aura of adventure and elegance airlines travel used to be back then.

This Airbus in old Air France livery may not equal the beauty of a Super Constellation but in her own way she is also nice.


Some aircraft grow strange appendages…

On 16/05/2012, in Picture stories, by steve

This is Pratt & Whitney’s flying testbed, on this occasion sporting the PW PurePower geared turbofan.


Consultation on the Updated European ATM Master Plan Launched

On 16/05/2012, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

The SESAR JU has handed over the final draft of the European ATM Master Plan Update to the members of its Administrative Board on 10 May 2012. This very important revision is the result of an intensive six months update campaign involving about 30 representatives from all air transport sectors gathered in the Master Planning Group. The European ATM Master Plan serves as roadmap for driving the modernisation of the Air Traffic Management system and connecting SESAR research and development with deployment.
The board members have been invited to provide their comments on the document before 20 June 2012 using their respective consultation bodies. The European Commission will for example consult through its Single European Sky Committee and Eurocontrol will confer through the Agency Advisory Board (AAB) and its Programme Committee (PC). The objective is to have the update of the European ATM Master Plan endorsed by the SESAR JU Administrative Board at its next meeting on 3 July.
You can read more about the ATM Master Plan update campaigne and its aims here.

T123 New Apron Management Service at Madrid-Barajas Airport

On 15/05/2012, in Life around runways, by steve

A new apron management service will be operational at Madrid-Barajas airport starting on 31 May 2012. AENA has compiled a circular to help users familiarize themselves with the new procedures.

You can download a copy of the guide here.


May 15, 1930 – The first ever stewardess flies on the Oakland-Chicago run

On 15/05/2012, in Anniversaries, by steve

Ellen Church was a registered nurse from Iowa and a girl in love with aviation. She even got his pilot’s license and tried to get a job with one of the airlines but in the 1930s this was a mission impossible for a woman. However she did not give up and when the folks at Boeing Air Transport (BAT, the forerunner of United Airlines) refused to give her a pilot job, she put forward another idea. BAT should employ nurses on board by way of alleviating the fear of flying that had been a very real problem for the airlines and their passengers back then.

The bosses at BAT realized the publicity value of Ellen’s proposal and in short order they hired eight nurses for a trial period of 3 months. Little did they know that the experiment would be such a resounding success that it continues to this day.

The company had set very rigorous conditions for the employment of those “sky girls” as they called them. They had to be single, not older than 25, not taller than 170 cm and weigh not more than 52 kilos.

Click here to read the full article


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