A snapshot of some recent research and development activities - Autumn, 2009

Prototyping a SESAR 4D trajectory environment

A series of prototyping sessions has been conducted in order to build a SESAR en-route operational environment, to assess the operability of Reference Business Trajectories, and to develop initial indications of benefits. The 4D (time-based) trajectory management task was conducted with increased and adapted traffic levels. In the experiments the controllers were able to facilitate adherence to 4D trajectories and many lessons were learnt with regard to the roles and tasks, airspace organisation, and the automation support required in this new environment.
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Implementing Airport CDM could significantly increase network capacity

Airport CDM (Collaborative Decision Making) has already demonstrated local benefits at implementing airports, such as a reduction in taxi-times. The expected benefits could extend from the local airport environment to the network level if more airports were to implement Airport CDM. By providing the CFMU (Central Flow Management Unit) with accurate Target Take Off Times, sector capacity could be increased by up to 4%, which equates to between one and two aircraft per sector per hour.
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Performance benefits when most aircraft respect agreed TMA entry times

 
Experiments based on probabilistic models of aircraft controlling their speeds to respect agreed TMA entry times have been conducted in partnership with Airbus. Significant potential benefits for TMA performance result if a high proportion of aircraft use flight management systems which are capable of meeting these entry times accurately.
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A systems-engineering approach to assessing the safety of the SESAR operational concept

A new approach, both broader and more rigorous than that traditionally followed in ATM, is needed for the safety assessment of the major operational and technology changes that are planned for introduction into European ATM over the period up to 2020 and beyond. This article presents the theoretical basis of a “systems-engineering approach” and describes how it is being applied to the preliminary work on the safety assessment of the SESAR operational concept.
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Strengths and weaknesses of US and European ATM performance

Global comparisons and benchmarking are valuable in order to optimise performance and identify best practice. A comparison of operational performance between the US and Europe reveals strong and weak points in both systems. Arrival punctuality and excess fuel burn are of the same order of magnitude overall, but there are notable differences depending upon the phase of flight in which inefficiencies occur (airborne vs. ground) and on their predictability (strategic vs. tactical).
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Despite challenges, leading experts anticipate long-term growth

Experts from across the aviation industry were interviewed in 2007-2008 about the challenges in air transport between now and 2030. Although air transport faces serious challenges, stable growth was anticipated in the long-term, even if the political and economic climate may affect its rate. The survey identified the main challenges to be fuel and ticket prices, public environmental awareness, and possible restrictions on the use of fossil fuel. Planning with an understanding of these factors is vital for the future of air transport.
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AIXM version 5 brings NOTAM into the digital age

 
The Aeronautical Information Exchange Model (AIXM) version 5, jointly developed by EUROCONTROL and the FAA, takes the challenge of reforming one of the oldest information systems used in aviation – the NOTAM system.
More than 700 000 text NOTAM messages are issued each year worldwide and are now poised to become digital, in order to improve safety and efficiency in the ATM system.
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Improved assessment of point merge performance

Point Merge is a new technique for integrating arrival traffic flows in the TMA. Higher fidelity fast-time simulations have been developed to strengthen the initial assessment. A comparison of Point Merge with conventional vectoring was presented at a recent aviation conference. Controller task load decreased by 20±1%, number of instructions to pilots decreased by about 30%, and fuel consumption decreased by 170±14 kg.
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Researchers gather in Napa, California, to discuss research in support of SESAR and NextGen

 
ATM2009, the 8th USA/Europe ATM R&D Seminar, took place in Napa, California, from June 29th to July 2nd. 69 papers were presented, and these are available online, together with the introductory and closing presentations.
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New Training Zone

 
The EUROCONTROL Training Zone is the digital learning environment used to manage students who attend classroom courses or who follow the e-learning courses of the Institute of Air Navigation Services, the Central Flow Management Unit or the Maastricht ATC centre. Some courses, including ‘Introduction to SESAR’ and ’Environment Awareness’, are available online.
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Training programme for national supervisory authorities

 
The National Supervisory Authorities (NSA) Training Initiative is designed to support states with their obligation to ensure training for those involved in safety oversight activities. The Training Initiative is organised as a number of mandatory courses, and a range of optional courses. A Certificate of Achievement is awarded to participants who successfully complete the training program.
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