Europe secures future of air traffic management through extension of SESAR Joint Undertaking

On 16/06/2014, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

On 16 June 2014 the Council of Ministers of the European Union adopted the extension of the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR) Joint Undertaking (SJU). This decision was taken in recognition of the need to foster Research and Innovation (R&I) on Air Traffic Management (ATM) beyond the organisation’s original mandate of 2016, as well as in appreciation of the SESAR partnership’s ability to respond to evolving business needs and fast track technological and operational improvements in Europe’s ATM system.

Established in 2007 by Council Regulation 219/2007 for a period up to December 2016, the SESAR Joint Undertaking is one of the European Union’s most successful public-private partnerships, whereby the entire European ATM sector engages in a single European effort to overcome the past defragmented approach to R&I in the area of ATM. As the technological pillar of the Single European Sky (SES), the SESAR Programme has a critical role to play in developing the necessary technologies and operational procedures to make European air travel more cost efficient, environmentally friendly and safer.

“The SESAR Joint Undertaking is a great asset for Europe because it can bring real economic value to the aviation value chain in the context of the Single European Sky. It re-affirms our reputation for innovation and scientific excellence in the global arena. It is also commendable how the SESAR Joint Undertaking has successfully secured the involvement of ATM stakeholders in the development of a modernised ATM system that meets their operational needs,” says João Aguiar Machado, Director General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE), and Chairman of the SJU Administrative Board.

Notable achievements of the SESAR Programme have been:

• The world’s first flight in four dimensions (3D + time) to enhance flight predictability;

• Remote Tower Services to provide access to remote regions and boost regional economies;

• Extensive toolkits to enhance safety on airport runways;

• Creation of an ATM intranet for the seamless exchange of information and better collaborative decision-making.

Click here to read the full article


Who benefits from ATM trade shows?

On 08/03/2014, in Events, by steve

ToothlessThe 2014 World ATM Congress has just closed its doors and like in other years, it left me with a nagging question. What is this jamboree about? The question is especially relevant since this new-fangled congress, under the auspices of CANSO and ATCA, is now in its second year and a comparison with its predecessor, ATC Global (now having been chased to Beijing) is also in order.

Of course there is nothing wrong with the venue of the Congress. The conference center in Madrid is world-class and Madrid itself is a wonderful city, so it was a good choice. The news that the congress will take place in the Spanish capital for at least another three year was a welcome one for sure.

But if we put the gathering and its events under the microscope, an interesting and disturbing “deja vu” feeling emerges.

Sure, the presentations and speeches are all there but the problem is not with what they say but what remains unsaid. Just like at ATC Global.

Of course it is nice to hear the party line repeated for the hundredth time and for someone wanting only an upbeat view of the future, this is just a fare they want. The theme of this year’s congress was “Delivery”… how stakeholders can work better to deliver. In the opening address, CANSO boss Jeff Pool said: without better regulation that positively drives performance, without ANSPs being allowed to operate like normal businesses and without working together to break down current barriers to global harmonization, we will not get anywhere. Nice words and I could not agree more. The problem is, they have a horribly musty smell…

Here is an interesting piece of text:

“At the fifth meeting of ECAC Transport Ministers (MATSE/5) in Copenhagen on 14th February 1997, Ministers adopted an Institutional Strategy for Air Traffic Management (ATM) in Europe and decided that the revised Convention, which was signed later in 1997, would be the legal instrument for the implementation of the ECAC ATM Institutional Strategy.
In addition, the Ministers requested a proposal for a comprehensive, ‘gate-to-gate’ orientated ATM Strategy for the years 2000+ as a follow-up to the En-Route and Airport Strategies for the 1990s. The ATM 2000+ Strategy follows on from the ECAC Strategies for the 1990’s. “

If you read the book that was the consequence of the above decision (just Google ATM2000+ Strategy), you will find something very interesting. Although there is no talk about horrors like the FAB or SESAR, or the less horroristic ICAO ASBUs, everything that is being promoted to-day, including at conferences like this one, as new and the saving of the ATM world has in fact been included in that strategy…

As I mentioned, the problem is not what is being said in the presentation. The problem is what is being left unsaid and thereby create the impression that we are on the threshold of the brave new ATM world. Just wait a few more months or years…

Click here to read the full article


Florian Guillermet nominated as new Executive Director of the SESAR Joint Undertaking

On 25/02/2014, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

The SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU) has just announced that Florian Guillermet, Deputy Executive Director of the SJU, has been selected for the position of Executive Director. Florian’s appointment comes at a time when the SJU and its members prepare for the next phase of SESAR, Europe’s ambitious research and development (R&D) programme on Air Traffic Management (ATM).

Florian Guillermet (right) with RW Editor Steve Zerkowitz

Florian Guillermet (right) with Roger-Wilco Editor Steve Zerkowitz at ATC Global 2011

Commenting on his appointment, Florian said: “SESAR is Europe’s most ambitious research and development programme and I am extremely honoured to have been chosen to steer the programme.”

Since joining the SJU in 2008, Florian has spearheaded major strategic and operational shifts across SESAR’s R&D process. His expertise and knowledge of ATM and the SESAR Programme will be key as the programme continues to develop a growing number of SESAR solutions, mature enough to be taken on board by the industry.

Click here to read the full article


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.”


Single Sky: Commission acts to unblock congestion in Europe’s airspace

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

ECOn 11 June 2013, the European Commission acted to speed up the reform of Europe’s air traffic control system. The Commission is looking to head off a capacity crunch as the number of flights is forecast to increase by 50% over the next 10-20 years.1 Inefficiencies in Europe’s fragmented airspace bring extra costs of close to 5 billion Euros each year to airlines and their customers. They add 42 kilometres to the distance of an average flight forcing aircraft to burn more fuel, generate more emissions, pay more in costly user charges and suffer greater delays. The United States controls the same amount of airspace, with more traffic, at almost half the cost.

EU Transport Commissioner, Siim Kallas, said: “Our airlines and their passengers have had to endure more than 10 years of reduced services and missed deadlines on the route to a Single European Sky. We cannot afford to continue this way. Today we are strengthening the nuts and bolts of the system so it can withstand more pressure and deliver ambitious reforms even in difficult economic times. We need to boost the competitiveness of the European aviation sector and create more jobs in the airlines and at airports”.

The Commission is proposing to update the four regulations creating the Single European Sky (SES), and amend rules governing the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Key elements of the proposals known as SES2+ include:

Better safety and oversight

Safety remains the first priority for aviation. EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) audits have shown great deficiencies in the oversight of air traffic control organisations in the Member States. The Commission is proposing full organisational and budgetary separation of national supervisory authorities from the air traffic control organisations whom they oversee, while at the same time ensuring sufficient resources are given to the National Supervisory Authorities to do their tasks. This will have a very positive effect both on oversight and safety. Many supervisory authorities are currently under-resourced and dependent on the support of the entities they are supposed to oversee.

Click here to read the full article


SWIM – Live success at World ATM Congress

On 14/02/2013, in SWIM, by steve

During 3 closed-out demonstration sessions, SESAR partners met at World ATM Congress to demonstrate live the agility and flexibility System Wide Information Management (SWIM) can bring.

Now I understand what SWIM is all about”
“SWIM is becoming a reality”
“Excellent demonstration!”
“This demonstration has shown that with very little effort you can interconnect many different systems if you apply the SWIM principles”.

These are just a few quotes from enthusiastic participants at the SESAR SWIM demonstrations held in Madrid on 12 and 13 February 2013. Throughout 3 sessions gathering over 200 participants, the live demonstrations of SWIM, the intranet of the future, presented the collaborative decision making capabilities of the SWIM technical infrastructure. They tested its capacities of information sharing, service orientation, federation, open standards and information & service lifecycle management.

The demonstrations involved 10 different ATM organisations interconnecting 31 instances and successfully exchanging information on airspace, flights, airports and weather. They proved the benefits of SWIM and how its maturing prototypes are closer to deployment in the near future.
Once more, SESAR is bringing tangible, deployable solutions to the ATM world.

SESAR Members and associate members directly involved in the SWIM Demonstration include DSNA/Meteo France, ENAV/IDS, EUROCONTROL, Frequentis, Honeywell, Indra, NATMIG, NATS, NORACON, SELEX ES and Thales.

Click here for the full demonstration scenario.



The Mortal Sin of not Taking CPDLC Seriously

On 18/01/2013, in Viewpoint, by steve

CPDLC… Controller Pilot Digital Link Communications. It all started when experts predicted that with the increasing demand, congestion on the air traffic control frequencies will make communications impossible and hence a cap will have to be put on the number of aircraft being served simultaneously, severely restricting ATC capacity.

CPDLC is in fact non-verbal communications using predetermined messages for all but the most time critical exchanges. A kind of SMS service for aviation if you like.

A decade or so ago, Europe was actually leading the world in developing CPDLC, so much so, that American Airlines, disenchanted with the FAA performance on the same subject, asked to be allowed into the EUROCONTROL Petal trials, the trendsetting project that solidified the basis for this new communications technology.

Both the US NextGen and the European SESAR projects show digital link communications as one of the most important elements of the new ATM system. However, some of the main European provider states have disclosed at the end of 2012 that, in spite of a mandate by the European Commission, they will be late with their digital link implementation. One of them will not be ready until 2019!

Of course to-day we know a good deal more about the future ATM system than we did back in the days of Petal. Back then, the focus was mainly on avoiding communications congestion in continental airspace. Anything more that digital link could do was still just a glimmer in the eyes of the most daring dreamers amongst us.

In the meantime, we have of course defined the meaning and practical aspects of Trajectory Based Operations, the new concept which finally does away with the legacy airspace based concept to replace is with something that is able to give back most of the freedom to airspace users that was taken away when positive control was introduced. In the drive for ever more economies in operations, that freedom translates to many millions of bucks saved every year for every company.

Click here to read the full article


Will EUROCONTROL’s New DG Rebuild an Old Dream?

On 11/01/2013, in ATC world, by steve

Frank Brenner, EUROCONTROL’s new DG

Once upon a time, EUROCONTROL had been created to be the air navigation service provider for Europe. Operating a limited number of air traffic control centers, a research institute and a training facility, it would have been the key to an efficient set up not unlike what we find in the United States.

Unfortunately, before the concept could be fully implemented, European States decided that such a pan-European service was not to their liking and they went for a EUROCONTROL that ended up having responsibility for only a relatively small chunk of airspace (although it is one of the busiest) and all later attempts to go further in the original direction were repulsed. Just think of CEATS…

A few functions were allowed to be under the EUROCONTROL umbrella. The Integrated Initial Flight Plan Processing System and the Central Executive Unit (the flow management folks) escaped the State surgeons’ knife and went on to become real success stories. They were later joined by the European AIS Data Base and of course the Central Route Charges Office is also something Europe could no longer exist without.

But air traffic control remained hopelessly fragmented and the costs were much higher than those in the US while the whole operation was a good deal less efficient. A series of projects entailed, each with lofty ideas about repairing European ATM but they all failed due to the same elementary forces that had afflicted the EUROCONTROL dream… The inertia and parochial thinking of European States, who were mainly interested in maintaining the status quo. Change came only where it was really no longer possible to keep things as they were.

Seeing that Europe as a whole was unable to reform its ATM, the European Commission came with a new idea. Let’s divide Europe into 2-3 blocks of airspace cut out to reflect the main traffic patterns and then have States optimize their services inside these blocks. So the FAB (Functional Airspace Block) idea was born. Of course Europe being Europe, instead of 2 or 3 FABs, 9 (NINE!!!) were created reflecting political wishes rather than the needs of air traffic patterns.

Guess what was discovered next? That 5 or 6 European States have roughly the same difficulty in agreeing anything as 20 or 39 do. The whole idea of FABs is fragmentation on a different scale but with 9 of the animals working away practically independently, a recipe for failure was clearly on the table. 4 December 2012 was the date when the FABs should have been operational… The date came and went and the FABs were there in name only to the dismay of the European Commission and the airlines who gave voice to their disappointment in a letter with unusually hard words.

Now EUROCONTROL has a new director.

Frank Brenner, a former VP of the Performance Review Commission, seems to be the bearer of something new… Something that might, one day, restore things to where they should have been decades ago but were always torpedoed by the parochial thinkers.

Centralised services…

Click here to read the full article


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


TITAN Final Workshop

On 20/12/2012, in TITAN, by steve

Those of you who have followed the evolution of the TITAN project on the pages of Roger-Wilco will be familiar with the aims and development methodology of this trend-setting EC 7th framework project. Building on the achievements of Airport Collaborative Decision Making systems (A-CDM), TITAN had set out to show how aircraft turnaround can be further optimized to the benefit of all partners concerned. TITAN was special also because its results were considered as important input for the airport collaborative decision making related projects of SESAR itself.

After three years of intense activity, TITAN has come to an end in November, marking this milestone with a final workshop that was held in Palma de Mallorca. Before you get funny ideas about the choice of location for the workshop, I hasten to add that this beautiful Spanish resort island was picked mainly in recognition of the valuable and voluntary contribution of Palma de Mallorca airport throughout the project.

The workshop was very well attended and it was nice to see that in addition to the customary airport and handling agent experts, industry and research establishment representatives were also in evidence, a clear indication of the significance of what TITAN was aiming to achieve.

This must be an interesting presentation!

In the course of the workshop, the main features of TITAN were presented. Participants could learn how service orientation was implemented, an absolute first in European CDM, how the TITAN model was developed and validated, providing a perfect basis for checking out and shaking down the TITAN concept of operations. The development of the TITAN tool represented a partial implementation of the concept which was however plenty enough to show what a full-fledged TITAN can do to make turnarounds even more predictable and an integral part of the aircraft trajectory.

Click here to read the full article


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