SESAR2020 DIGITS debuts ADS-C pre-operational demonstration

Aircraft operated by easyJet have started exchanging Automatic Dependant Surveillance – Contract (ADS-C) data with air traffic controllers at Eurocontrol’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC).

Air France, British Airways, Iberia, Novair, Thomas Cook Airlines and Wizz Air will soon join the demonstration, which is managed under the SESAR2020 DIGITS project (Demonstration of ATM Improvements Generated by Initial Trajectory Sharing).

Using ADS-C technology, aircraft log on to the MUAC system and automatically downlink flight management system information, which can be displayed on the controllers’ screens.

In particular, the flight management system downlinks the Extended Projected Profile (EPP), which consists of up to 128 waypoints in four dimensions, and therefore, provides valuable data to the controllers about the aircraft’s intent. Should it differ from the flight plan available to the air traffic controllers, they will receive a warning.

Further information such as the top of descent is made available to the controllers too, so that continuous descent operations can be initiated more optimally. ADS-C has the potential to increase safety and ensure more efficient air traffic management service provision.

Initially, 24 controllers at MUAC will be participating in the pre-operational demonstration, and they will pass on their feedback to the MUAC project team to assess the quality and usability of the data. In addition, the information received is recorded and passed on to other SESAR2020 projects for evaluation of the technology’s potential in improving ground trajectory predictions and enhancing a range of applications – from conflict detection to demand and capacity balancing.

MUAC’s ground partners in the demonstration are the DFS (Germany), ENAV (Italy), NATS (UK) and Eurocontrol’s Experimental Centre at Brétigny. They will be receiving and recording data off-line.

MUAC’s industry partners Airbus and Indra are also part of the SESAR 2020 DIGITS very-large-scale demonstration led by Airbus.

The project has received funding from the SESAR Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.