SITAONAIR exceeds Single Sky targets with datalink upgrade

SITAONAIR has exceeded Single European Sky expectations through its instrumental work establishing a multi-frequency European datalink infrastructure to increase air traffic management (ATM) capacity in the region’s airspace.

SITAONAIR, the aviation industry’s aircraft communications business, ensured the successful roll-out of the enhanced air-ground (A/G) datalink service needed to support airlines and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) with the implementation of Controller-Pilot Data Link Communication (CPDLC).

Working with partners, SITAONAIR facilitated this transition by establishing a multi-frequency VHF Data Link Mode 2 (VDLm2 MF) network infrastructure between 2015 and 2018. The VDLm2 improvements have brought key performance rates closer to reaching targets stated in the CPDLC mandate, as set out by the Single European Sky (SES) vision.

As a result, the rate of Provider Aborts – which occur due to sustained loss of end-to-end connectivity – have reduced dramatically, from peaking at 24 per cent in 2014, to falling as low as 1 per cent in 2018 in the airspace controlled by Eurocontrol Maastricht Upper Airspace Center (MUAC). Similarly, the measured transmission delay now exceeds the target set in the CPDLC mandate.

Meanwhile, the number of weekly ATN (Aeronautical Telecommunications Network) CPDLC connections with MUAC, increased from around 1,000 to 7,500 in the same period.

The upgrade, made possible by SITAONAIR and key ATM partners including DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung, supports Europe to safely manage increased air traffic volumes. This currently stands at around 26,000 daily flights, with levels set to double by 2020.

Eric Ménard, head of VHF infrastructure, SITAONAIR, said: “This was a challenging project that SITAONAIR and its partners embarked on proactively and within an ambitious timeframe. Through constant, collaborative work and development, we have not only enabled the regional industry to take an important step towards the Single European Sky vision. We have exceeded key performance targets set out in the mandate, ensuring that an infrastructure network can perform for European air traffic control and airlines for the foreseeable future.”

Egon Koopman of DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung added: “This key collaboration signifies the vital benefits of our relationships with industry leaders such as SITAONAIR. The results we have seen across Europe reflect the valuable progress that’s been achieved. We’re proud to be involved and look forward to enhancing ATM and air transport safety into the future.”