Europe’s tech vision turns pragmatic

New strategic roadmaps charting the overhaul of Europe’s Single Sky have now been agreed following the redrafting of the European Air Traffic Management Master Plan.

SESAR – the technological arm of the Single European Sky programme – said the technological and operational roadmaps allow for timely, coordinated and efficient deployment of new technologies and procedures leading up to 2030. Its content has also  been aligned with International Civil Aviation Organisation’s Aviation System Block Upgrades (ASBU), in order to secure global interoperability and synchronisation.

SESAR said that at its core, the Master Plan is performance-driven, responding to the four key performance areas (KPAs) of environment, cost-efficiency, safety and capacity. These criteria, set by the European Commission, form part of the wider set of ICAO KPAs.

“First drafted in early 2009, the Master Plan is intended to evolve with time. This  2012 version helps to better achieve the high level goals of Single European Sky (SES), as set by the European Commission,” said SESAR.

“The Master Plan provides the most up-to-date view of the products, technologies and operational procedures to be industrialised and deployed to meet the needs of European citizens,” said SESAR.

Key features of the new Master Plan are:

A revision of the performance objectives contributing to SES’ high level goals

The results achieved so far in the R&D programme have helped determine intermediate performance targets feeding into SES high level goals. These revised targets correspond to the contribution of SESAR, one (for technology) of the five SES pillars (the other four are performance, safety, airports and human factors).

In its first of three change steps, SESAR will contribute to:

  • -2.8% in fuel efficiency
  • -6% in cost efficiency
  • -40% in accident risk per flight hour
  • +27% in airspace capacity

Clear scheduled roadmaps of required technical changes, for all stakeholders.

Each stakeholder i.e. airspace users, air navigation service providers, airport operators and the network manager (civil and military included) is provided with a roadmap detailing the type and date of the ATM technology change required in the first step of SESAR. These time-based roadmaps also feature necessary air/ground deployment synchronisation dates.

Furthermore, roadmaps are included for infrastructure (communication, navigation and surveillance), standardisation and regulation. These allow a common European understanding of required changes, in preparation of ICAO’s Twelfth Air Navigation Conference (ANC 12)

The introduction of a notion of “essential operational changes”.

The Master Plan focuses on a series of operational changes deemed “essential” to best deliver performance benefits to one or more operating environments, i.e. airport, en-route, terminal manoeuvring area, and the network. This allows stakeholders to focus their efforts on a manageable set of necessary changes to reach the Single European Sky high-level goals.

These essential operational changes are grouped into six key features which will evolve through three steps up to 2030:

  • Moving from Airspace to 4D Trajectory Management;
  • Traffic Synchronisation;
  • Network Collaborative Management and Dynamic/ Capacity Balancing;
  • System Wide Information Management;
  • Airport Integration and Throughput;
  • Conflict Management and Automation.

The mapping of SESAR changes to the ICAO framework

ICAO’s Global Air Navigation Plan will be based on Aviation System Block Upgrades (ASBU), a suite of modules organised into flexible and scalable building blocks where each module represents a specific, well defined improvement.

For the development of the ASBUs, ICAO made use of the material provided by SESAR and the US FAA’s NextGen programme.

From a SESAR perspective, mapping ICAO’s ASBU was key to achieving global interoperability and synchronisation, where and when necessary.

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