European Commission proposes new mandate for SESAR Joint Undertaking to support the Single European Sky

On 10/07/2013, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

kallasThe European Commission has proposed to prolong the mandate of the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR) Joint Undertaking (JU) for a further 8 years, until 2024. This extension shows the Commission’s strong commitment to the Single European Sky project and recognises the importance of the results that the SESAR JU has already achieved to date. The EU’s share of the funding for the extension, amounting to a maximum of 600 million Euros, will come from the Horizon 2020 programme, as part of the EU’s new Multi-Annual Financial Framework. The members of the SJU have also confirmed their commitment to the SESAR 2020 Programme, which will result in an overall budget of around 1.6 billion euros.

European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: “The benefits of a truly European air traffic management are clearer than ever. But without the technology developed by the SESAR JU, we would not be able to make the Single European Sky – with fewer delays and less pollution – a reality. And exporting the technology developed here will put us in a strong position in this major sector of global air transport.”

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TITAN extension – what is happening?

On 26/02/2013, in TITAN, by steve

As reported earlier, the TITAN project has been extended by three months and the extra time is being used to conduct additional dissemination activities. Among these, a more detailed video on the TITAN concept is being produced and a publication entitled TITAN The Book is being written. This latter takes the reader from the early days of collaborative decision making (CDM) through a description of the new air traffic management environment’s most important features to a description of the TITAN concept and its practical application. The style is more popular than scientific and the intention is to make CDM and TITAN related information in the wider sense of the word accessible also to readers not directly concerned with this particular field of air traffic management.

A series of workshops have also been organized in Munich, Cologne, Budapest, Milan and Brussels with the aim of helping the industry learn more about what TITAN is and what additional benefits it can bring to airports what have already implemented Airport CDM (A-CDM).

Watch this space for a report on the conclusions of the workshops and access to the news video and a link to download TITAN The Book.

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TITAN extended by three months

On 01/02/2013, in TITAN, by steve

Although the TITAN project was to have ended in November 2012, we are now happy to announce that a three months extension was granted by the commission. The original aims had been reached on time and all the deliverables were completed, however, some of the originally agreed budget was still available and it was decided to use this money for additional dissemination activities.

Partners were asked to come up with innovative ideas and here is what is now being planned:

TITAN comes to you: under this heading, a number of workshops will be held on location (E.g Brussels, Budapest, Cologne), enabling CDM experts and other interested partners to learn about TITAN without having to travel themselves.

Articles and scientific papers: An article will be submitted to the Journal of Airport Management and a paper will be written for the ATM Seminar 2013.

TITAN The Book: In this little pocketbook, TITAN will be described in a popular and easy to read style, putting everything into the wider airport collaborative management (A-CDM) context and the future air traffic management environment. The intention is to create a small reference work that will be usable as guidance for A-CDM and TITAN implementation questions well beyond the lifetime of the TITAN project itself.

TITAN The Movie: Based on the original TITAN project video, a new movie will be created that covers the innovative features of TITAN in more detail. The service orientation, trajectory based operations and the like will be explained showing how these features apply to TITAN.

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2013 – Another year of failures?

On 02/01/2013, in Viewpoint, by steve

It is customary to look back at the end of the year to take stock and then to make all kinds of promises to ourselves for the new year… Promises that we seldom keep.

European air traffic management had a tumultuous year culminating in grumbling by the airspace users on a previously unheard scale and indeed language. The FAB’s were criticized fiercely, air/ground digital link services will be late and the much hyped new version of the SESAR Master-plan barely made it…

So, what promises will Europe make to its long suffering airspace users for 2013? Words are only words of course and we all know the value of New Year promises… But then what can we realistically expect from 2013?

To understand 2012, we do need to go back a little further in history. For the better part of two decades, Europe has had air traffic management improvement projects that did generate new ideas, new solutions which even managed to evolve as traffic patterns and aircraft capabilities were evolving… on paper. Because in reality, very little of the new ideas were put into every-day operational use. The projects failed one after the other. EATCHIP, ATM2000+ went down the drain and the best proof of their failure is the existence of SESAR. Had the previous projects achieved their objectives, there would never have been a need for a monster project like SESAR.

It was of course very convenient to blame EUROCONTROL for the failures and subsequently the only institution in Europe with real ATM knowledge was gutted and basically made all but irrelevant.
Other than a few mavericks, yours truly included, nobody spoke up to tell the world the real reason for all those project failures: that it were recalcitrant States and ANSPs that actually not only threw the wrench into the works but also kept it there to make sure change was all but impossible.

Click here to read the full article

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Is there a future for the FABs?

On 05/12/2012, in FAB News, by steve

In view of the huge effort that went into creating at least the legal framework for the nine Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) and the recent hard words from the industry blasting states and the European Commission for the failure of the FABs to deliver anything really useful by the December 4 deadline, the question in the title may sound peculiar.

However, it is not as outlandish as it may sound. Let’s give a closer look at what the FABs really are and then try to answer the question.

Europe has been struggling with its fragmented air traffic management system for decades. While the United States was handling a lot more traffic equally safely but at a much lower cost to the airlines, Europe was going from one failed ATM project to the other with mighty little to show for it. EATCHIP in several phases followed by ATM2000+, all filled with lofty aims and truly forward looking ideas… and all coming to a virtual halt because of the reluctance of European states to change the status quo.

The European Commission’s Single European Sky (SES) initiative was supposed to put the regulatory oomph behind the drive to repair European ATM but even that has proved to be lacking. SES I was followed by SES II…

This brings us to the famous Functional Airspace Blocks (FAB). Some like to present this idea as revolutionary but in fact the FAB concept was nothing more than an admission that Europe, as a whole, was incapable of agreeing on how to build a better ATM system and by reducing the task to more manageable chunks, it should work better. Of course things blew up right at the start… Instead of the 3 maximum 4 FABs Europe would ever need we ended up with nine (!), all created mainly on political grounds, clearly a poor start for what should have been a functional redistribution of European ATM.

Having basically adulterated the original FAB concept by increasing the number of FABs to nine, European ANSPs left the whole thing dormant for a couple of years and it took the European Commission some serious saber rattling before they started to build something… reluctantly at first then with more enthusiasm when they realized that the FAB concept is the perfect thing to hide behind and be rid of troublesome European requirements. If members of a given FAB agree on something that is different from what Europe as whole would need, that is too bad. It is not by accident that to this day, there is no effective working structure above the FABs to force them to work in harmony on a European level. The EC implementing rules cover certain aspects but as in the past, the devil is in the detail… and FABs rule there individually. The idea that EUROCONTROL is the network manager (with no real powers to do much) does not solve anything either.

Click here to read the full article

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Airline industry condemns EU Member States on lack of progress on FABs to date

On 04/12/2012, in FAB News, by steve

The Association of European Airlines (AEA), the European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Carrier Association (IACA) are united in condemning EU Member States for their reluctance to properly implement Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs), a key ingredient for the successful delivery of Single European Sky II (SES II).

Member States have failed to honour their obligations under the Single European Sky Regulation to properly implement FABs by the stipulated deadline of 4 December 2012. They have had eight years to comply with the Regulation, yet they have not moved much further than the mere creation of FABs.

The intent of the legislation with respect to FABs was to drive defragmentation of European airspace, enabling significantly enhanced efficiency, while delivering cost-effectiveness improvements. The current situation of individual Air Navigation Service Providers in the 27 Member States around Europe operating as independent service providers is extremely inefficient – to the extent that inefficiencies alone cost the industry over €5 billion every year. Such fragmentation and resultant inefficiency further cause an unnecessary 13 million tonnes of CO2 to be emitted per year, equivalent to 10% of current aviation emissions in EU airspace.

The Heads of the airline associations stated:

“The current situation is scandalous. It is not enough to create Functional Airspace Blocks in name only. FABs must be demonstrably business-driven, generating tangible operational efficiencies, significant cost savings and environmental benefits.”

Click here to read the full article

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TITAN – Questions and Answers

On 30/11/2012, in TITAN, by steve

With the TITAN project now officially closed, we decided to bring you a set of questions and answers, in case you want a quick overview of what TITAN was all about. You can find all titan documents on the official website here. The TITAN video is available here.

What is TITAN? – Turnaround Integration in Trajectory and Network (TITAN) is an FP7 funded EU collaborative project that developed an advanced operational concept for the turnaround process to improve predictability, flexibility, efficiency and cost effectiveness and to provide common situational awareness to the actors involved in the process.

How does TITAN relate to A-CDM? – TITAN is aligned with and complements A-CDM (Airport Collaborative Decision Making) as it aims for an even better management of the turnaround. TITAN will use the procedures and rules established for A-CDM supplemented by those specifically developed for the turnaround. Besides the A-CDM milestones, a set of turnaround-specific milestones have been defined to support the monitoring of the turnaround process.

How does TITAN relate to SESAR? – The TITAN operational concept is not only compatible with but in many ways is complementary to the SESAR Concept of Operations. It addresses those details that were not specifically elaborated in the SESAR CONOPS.

What are the most important new features that TITAN incorporates? – For the first time ever, the aircraft turnaround is described in a process-based, service oriented manner. The concept is built around the principles of Trajectory Based Operations (TBO) and makes full use of System Wide Information Management (SWIM) if available, while being compatible also with the legacy environment.

Click here to read the full article

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HungaroControl’s New Air Traffic Control Center Building Commissioned Today

On 30/08/2012, in ATC world, by steve

ANS III to go live in February next year

HungaroControl’s new air traffic control center building, commissioned on 30 August 2012, marks a new important milestone of ANS III, the complex development plan for the Hungarian air navigation service provider. After installing the software, moving into the new facility, and completing a successful pilot operation, Hungarian air traffic controllers will control the airspace from the new hi-tech air navigation center.

As part of its ANS III complex development plan, HungaroControl Plc. is establishing a new high-tech air traffic control center in Budapest, Hungary. The purpose of the investment is to extend the existing capacities of the Hungarian air traffic control and maintain its high level of efficiency, technological standards and reliability in line with the EU’s integration plans and performance objectives. Built with EU funding of EUR 6 million in the framework of the TEN-T (Trans European Network – Transport) plan, the new air traffic control center has a total floor space of close to 10,000 square meters on three levels.

Click here to read the full article

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European Air Traffic Management – A historic clash of concept and politics

On 05/07/2012, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

Although you would never know it from reading the rather upbeat communications from the Functional Airspace Block (FAB) and SESAR folks, ATM in Europe is heading towards some major turbulence. That the EC’s Single Sky Committee very nearly managed to kick the deadline of meeting the Single Sky (SES) high-level goals a further 13 years into the future (to 2033!!!) is only one indication of how the whole structure is creaking under the relentless drive of the backward thinkers hell bent on keeping things from happening.

But there is more. What about a collision between a black hole and a complete galaxy? Astronomers amongst you will say this means complete annihilation for the galaxy. Now replace black hole with FAB and the galaxy with SESAR. I am not kidding!

Various high level managers at the European air traffic management organizations hasten to point out that SESAR has always been envisaged as being based on the FAB idea, that they are completely compatible with each other. Quite apart from the not negligible fact that this is simply not true, such claims also show just how little some people seem to understand the difference between the FAB idea and what SESAR represents.

What SESAR is aiming to introduce is a set of paradigm changing concepts, among them Trajectory Based Operations (TBO). I will not go into the details of TBO in this article, if you are interested, read more about it here and here. Let it suffice to say that we left out any mention of FABs in the original SESAR concept of operations for a very good reason. The kind of fragmentation represented by the FABs is not only not needed under the TBO environment of SESAR, it is a hindrance that can potentially kill any hope for true TBO.

What are the Functional Airspace Blocks or FABs? They are most certainly not an air traffic management concept or method of working or even an idea that would make things work better by definition. FABs are in fact a sad admission that Europe did not succeed in creating a continent-wide air traffic management environment that would have come anywhere near satisfying the users’ needs. So, in order to make a little progress, some poor soul somewhere came up with what might appear to be a pragmatic approach. If Europe’s Air Navigation Service Providers as a whole cannot be made to work together properly, lets beat them into a few small groups, focused around newly defined blocks of airspace that have similar user requirements in the hope that these groupings will be more effective in working together in a sensible way.

So, for starters, FABs are not an ATM concept but a political construct aimed at getting the ANSPs to cooperate properly at least on a group by group basis.

Click here to read the full article

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Boeing joins SESAR as an Associate Partner to SELEX

On 19/06/2012, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

Boeing and SELEX Sistemi Integrati, S.p.A – a Finmeccanica company- have entered into a collaboration agreement in support of the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) program’s development phase

Boeing will cooperate with SELEX Sistemi Integrati with research in flight data modeling and data link communications for all phases of flight, and system-wide information management (SWIM).

“Boeing’s participation as our associate partner will support SESAR towards a globally interoperable air traffic management system,” said Stefano Porfiri, SESAR program manager, SELEX Sistemi Integrati.

The agreement follows a Memorandum of Collaboration signed in October 2011 between Boeing and SELEX Sistemi Integrati in which the two companies agreed to cooperate on the SESAR and U.S. Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) programs.

“We are applying an industry-leading Boeing portfolio of services and expertise to the SESAR program to further the modernization of the global air traffic system,” said Neil Planzer, vice president of Air Traffic Management, Boeing Flight Services.

SELEX Sistemi Integrati is a leading industry supplier of air traffic management and airport systems. They are a member of the SESAR Joint Undertaking and one of the major contributors to the SESAR development phase.

The SESAR program is the operational and technological answer to Europe’s air traffic management challenges. Embedded in the European Unions’ (EU) ambitious Single European Sky initiative, the aim of SESAR is to ensure the modernization of the European air traffic management system by coordinating and concentrating all relevant research and development efforts in the EU.

The Boeing Air Traffic Management team draws on expertise from across the enterprise including Commercial Airplanes, Commercial Aviation Services’ Flight Services division, including subsidiary Jeppesen as well as Boeing Research and Technology and Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

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