Press release

ATM Awards 2020 – Enabling Technology

Example of the downlinked ADS-C Extended Projected Profiles

SESAR 2020 Project 31 DIGITS - demonstration of ATM improvements generated by initial trajectory sharing.

Image: Example of the downlinked ADS-C Extended Projected Profiles

On behalf of all SESAR 2020 PJ-31 DIGITS partners, including the participating airlines, EUROCONTROL’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) welcomes the recognition afforded by the ATM Awards 2020 Enabling Technology prize. It highlights the success of the project in demonstrating that initial trajectory sharing delivers operational benefits, and recognises the huge efforts that all project participants have made towards furthering the future of trajectory-based operations.

In December 2020 SESAR 2020 Project 31 DIGITS came to a close after successfully proving, via live pre-operations at MUAC, shadow mode in Germany (DFS), Italy (ENAV) and UK (NATS), and connections to EUROCONTROL’s Experimental Centre in Brétigny, that the European Commission’s Common Project #1 AF6 Initial Trajectory Information Sharing is on track for implementation.

The demonstrations were led by AIRBUS and involved six airlines (AIR FRANCE, BRITISH AIRWAYS, EASYJET, IBERIA, NOVAIR and WIZZ AIR), four air navigation service providers (DFS, ENAV, EUROCONTROL MUAC and NATS), several industrial suppliers (AIRTEL, HONEYWELL, INDRA, LEONARDO and THALES Avionics), EUROCONTROL’s Experimental Centre, DECMA and the EUROCONTROL Network Manager, as well as associated partners*.

Starting in 2019, AIRBUS equipped a total of 90 A319/A320/A321 aircraft with the CPDLC/ADS-C standard called ATS Baseline 2 (ATS B2). As well as the updates to the existing CPDLC messages, the innovative technology relates to ADS-C, the Automatic Dependent Surveillance Contract, which enables the downlink of the Extended Projected Profile (EPP) from the flight. The EPP provides the aircraft’s trajectory in four dimensions which can then be displayed to the controllers. It provides early warning of unexpected manoeuvres by improving predictability for the controller when displaying the aircraft’s intentions, enhances the ground trajectory prediction, and can be shared between ground units.

By the end of the project, approximately 20,000 successful flights had connected in shadow mode, with 12,000 of these linking to controllers working on the pre-operational MUAC system. In total, more than 1,400,000 ADS-C transactions were logged.

The DIGITS project has taken a major step towards trajectory-based operations, and has proven that the ATS B2 technology is ready to be rolled out more widely. The project required pilots from the participating airlines and a selected group of Maastricht controllers to be trained to use the new functionality and avoid increasing complexity in an already demanding environment. DIGITS has shown that this introduction is not only possible, but also desirable, with much positive feedback and suggestions for further improvement.

“At MUAC we firmly believe in the robust findings of the project and will continue to pioneer development of initial trajectory sharing, introducing ATS B2 into our operational systems in the near term. With the mandated CP1 AF6, trajectory-based operations will start to deliver clear improvements in safety, better planning and opportunities for controllers to optimise climbs and descents where possible. Future developments in arrival management, flow management and better meteorological information are also on our horizon.”

Interested to learn more

Visit this dedicated SESAR 2020 PJ-31 DIGITS page.

Note to editors

SESAR 2020 project PJ31 was launched as part of the SESAR 2020 programme and started in September 2016. The first commercial aircraft was equipped with certified ATS B2 avionics in February 2019. Shadow-mode operations started in April 2019, and MUAC started its pre-operational demonstration in July 2019.

PJ31 DIGITS has received funding from the SESAR Joint Undertaking under Grant Agreement 731818, as part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

*The full list of project partners comprises AIRBUS, AIR FRANCE, AIRTEL, BRITISH AIRWAYS, COOPANS (LFV, NAVIAIR), DFS, EASYJET, ENAV, EUROCONTROL, HONEYWELL, IBERIA, INDRA, LEONARDO, NATS, NOVAIR, THALES AVIONICS and WIZZ AIR.