ATM had the opportunity to speak with the SESAR Deployment Manager, General Manager, Nicolas Warinsko to get an update on current activities and achievements from the prior year and a look to the future. Our discussion focused on three areas: the European Green Deal, digitalization and the integration of ATM and UTM.
There are 345 projects in the overall operating plan and to date 150 have been completed. These projects account for 24% of the investment, highlighting that the remaining projects still have a great amount of impact to bring to play. Currently about one project per week is being completed, as the initial projects represent the smaller programs.
Starting with sustainability and the environment, there are some great successes to date and more planned through 2030. You can access a fact sheet with more details, but a few of the key highlights include targets for 2020 to reduce fuel consumption by 25,000 tons, reduce CO2 by 79,000 tons and drive a resulting financial savings of 19,000,000 Euros. The achievements to date for CO2 reduction are the equivalent of saving 2,300,000 trees. From a financial perspective, the savings to airlines is 75,000,000 Euros and could result in lower costs to passengers.
Digitalisation is the next topic we discussed. The air traffic management world is evolving, and as it does there needs to be a bridge between the existing reliable technology that has been in place for many years and the ability to introduce new technology. Data Link Services (DLS) was mandated in 2016 and is being implemented for the digital exchange of information between aircraft and ground. In 2018, 40% of flights in Europe were equipped with this technology. By January of this year, this figure had risen to 68%. As you can see there is still a way to go given the original goal was for completion in February of this year and it is currently not the case that you can fly across Europe with a full data link connection. DLS is the gateway to ATM moving toward digitalization. As long as you remain dependent on voice communications between pilots, digitalisation cannot happen. It has to be available everywhere, every time to support every flight in Europe.
Once all of the data is on the ground, what do we do with it? SWIM and interoperability is the next step. There needs to be a secure network that is available to all of the stakeholders to be able to make decisions with the same level of information.
ATM and UTM integration is also a priority. There are too many flying objects to be controlled by a human. The bulk of this traffic could be managed by Artificial Intelligence with the human to make decisions in critical situations. In early March, the Fly AI report was released by the European Aviation High Level Group on AI to look at the possibility of introducing AI to our industry.
It’s exciting to look ahead for what’s yet to come, but also to embrace the successes of the program. Five years ago, the Pilot Common Project (PCP) outlined a list of projects to achieve by 2020 – 2026 and this is how the SESAR Deployment Manager came about . The Deployment Manager function was created from scratch. This program is responsible for the translation of the regulatory requirements to the industry. Who does what and when? Anything they work on involves a consultation with the wider industry to develop a strategy and implementation plan, not only the members of the program. There is currently a request to develop a new version of Common Project #1 to realign the PCP with today’s priorities. The original plan was defined 6 years ago, regulation has changed and it needs to be revised.
Of course, this discussion cannot end without the mention of COVID-19. The implications to the remaining projects as a result of this industry devastation are yet to be seen. Maybe the timelines change, maybe the priorities change. It will never be as it was before, aviation is forever changed as a result of this. Need to think about how we adapt to this situation. All members will need support following this crisis.