EATIN

EUROCONTROL Air Transport Innovation Network

Developing agile digital solutions and services to fit our stakeholders' needs.

InnovationHub

At EUROCONTROL, we are transforming the way we connect and serve the operational stakeholders in the air transport domain.

Our new and improved approach is to work closer with the end-users such as air navigation service providers (ANSPs), airports and airspace users to develop agile digital solutions and services in response to their needs. To do this, we have set up the EUROCONTROL Air Transport Innovation Network and innovation projects supported by agile innovation processes.

Our innovation projects aim at developing solutions to selected operational challenges/needs with quantifiable efficiency gains for operational stakeholders.

Development process

The solutions are developed following an agile approach with three key steps:

  • Connect
    Capture operational challenges and needs provided by our stakeholders via an open call and select the challenges to be addressed;
  • Build
    Work on solutions for selected operational challenges and needs in a 6 to 12-month timeframe;
  • Promote
    Communicate the output of the prototyping to promote the solutions and launch the next call for operational challenges.

We are regularly launching new calls for operational challenges. You can find the most recent information here.

EATIN Promote Event 2023

In May 2023, we hosted around 100 experts from 40 organisations and 20 countries at the EUROCONTROL Innovation Hub in Brétigny for the EUROCONTROL Air Transport Innovation Network (EATIN) "Promote" event. The aim was to announce a new batch of projects and showcase the latest prototypes.

InnovationHub
News

New call for operational challenges for our user-driven innovation projects

Outcomes

The outcome of a successful innovation project will be the demonstration of a viable solution.

Our new innovation process is complementary to the SESAR programme and its aspiration to accelerate the market uptake building on existing network of partnerships.

First cycle of pilot solutions

Curfew collaborative management

The product developed within this project uses machine-learning techniques to predict potential curfew infringements for a given flight at a given airport. The ML algorithm has been integrated into EUROCONTROL’s MIRROR platform following a successful phase of internal testing and trial by airlines and airports in 2021.

Dashboard of airborne delays

This project, initiated by airlines, aims at supporting fuel planning by providing information regarding airborne delays at arrival (i.e. in the terminal area) resulting from holding and sequencing. We have developed a dashboard of historical airborne delays (also denoted ASMA additional times) for the top 27 European airports, complemented by a view of the historical and current traffic demand. We are now investigating the feasibility of providing the current and predicted values of airborne delays, and later weather information. Four airlines are following the development: Air Europa, Swiss, Transavia and Turkish Airlines.

Forecast of the ATFM delay evolution for a regulated flight (FADE)

The Forecast of ATFM Delay Evolution – FADE – helps airlines understand better how delays evolve when a flight is affected by an air traffic flow management (ATFM) regulation.

It came from the need that in their current day-to-day operations, airlines have limited information on their regulated flights slot evolution, which makes operational planning not as predictable as they would like. This lack of information can have major impacts on operations, their economic performance, and the passenger experience.

FADE was developed by the EUROCONTROL Innovation Hub (EIH) as part of the first ideation cycle of the EUROCONTROL Air Transport Innovation Network. It is a machine-learning (AI) model trained on historical data that provides an estimation of the ATFM delay evolution for a regulated flight, via two indicators:

  • Predicted delay – estimation of the final ATFM delay
  • Delay decrease probability – probability that the current ATFM delay is going to decrease

The FADE project is now closed. It has been deployed in May 2023 on the NMP Flight application and is also available via API. Its deployment is the result of a strong collaboration between the EUROCONTROL Innovation Hub and Network Management teams. More than 50 airlines are using FADE on a daily basis.

Second cycle of solutions

Airports

The objective of the project was to improve the operational performance through the development of a predictive tool providing pre-tactical and tactical predictions of in-block and off-block time deviations supported by predictions on passenger demand (load factors). We used the Power BI dashboard to visualise the outputs of the model and overall predictions at flight level. The predictive model and the dashboard designed for Geneva Airport have been validated through an operational trial, whose objective was to evaluate the accuracy of the model and to check the dashboard usability from an operational perspective. The project members concluded that the validation results form a very good basis to continue the development by reworking the algorithms focusing mainly on in-block time predictions as well as on revising the layout of the dashboard.

This is one of the first projects that are part of our Air Transport Innovation Network to hand out the prototype for industrialisation. Its objective is to improve the information exchanged between different operational partners – airports, airlines, ground handlers and the EUROCONTROL Network Manager. The project is addressing challenges such as multiple point-to-point data interfaces between airlines, airports and ground handlers; airport to airport data exchange; security aspects regarding the exchanged data, etc. The project team has built a data exchange platform covering flight related data relevant to planning and operations with a standard SWIM data interface. EUROCONTROL is now making the documentation publicly available to the market, so that commercial providers can use it to further develop the platform as a product.

This process innovation project delivered a comprehensive approach to quantify the runway collision barrier model. Using the Network Manager Safety Functions Map (SAFMAP) comprehensive barrier model, the project researched and validated an approach to characterise and quantify the individual barriers success and failure rates and to integrate these into an overall risk and resilience quantitate model. The approach allows users to investigate model sensitivities to changes in the traffic conditions and to analyse the effects of addressing specific risk. A great benefit from using the approach is the ability to explicitly predict safety benefits of new investments – new infrastructure, procedures, or training.

Airspace users

Driven by the requirements of participating airspace users, the project identified operational benefits to having advance notice of the predicted runway in use and runway configuration at an arrival airport. The intended consumers are flight dispatchers (for flight planning purposes, both strategic and pre-tactical), and flight crew (for situational awareness in the tactical phase). Nevertheless, it is envisioned that this tool could also serve (with minimal adaptation) other stakeholders in the operational context. Some of the benefits include: contributing to the calculation of optimal flight route, increasing the predictability of tactical route adjustments related to the runway in use, better estimation of fuel and taxi-times, increased situational awareness, and shared level of information between flight crew and the airline’s dispatchers. Over several months in 2021/22 the project undertook to develop a proof of concept, which was subsequently demonstrated to the participating airlines.

ANSPs

This project, initiated by Paris CDG airport, aims at going a step further to the current operations, with a runway allocation minimizing CO2 emissions for both the airborne and the taxi parts. Thales developed a prototype version of the current arrival manager with this new optimisation feature, fed by detailed fuel data tables (per runway, flow and additional time) developed by EUROCONTROL. The follow’up will be decided by Paris CDG.

The project objective is to visualise predicted knock-on delay and the impact on traffic demand for the next 12h from an FMP, Airport and Airline perspective.

Knock-on delays are mostly caused by aircraft rotations, i.e. a late inbound arrival of an aircraft causing a late departure on the next flight operated by the same aircraft. A smaller share of knock-on delays is caused by connecting passengers, crew, or cargo.

The project targets knock-on delays caused by the aircraft rotations and uses the calculations done by iDEMAND (based on business rules) and the RNN (Night Curfew) models to predict the impact of knock-on delays on the demand picture for FMPs, airports and airlines.

The project aims to create a real-time Decision-Making Support tool:

  • For FMPs, the new interface allows to visualise the predicted demand vs. the ETFMS demand (Airspace or Traffic Volume Set) and to identify if/when knock-on delay will dissipate traffic demand peaks rendering the use of ATFM Regulations unnecessary. Or the opposite, when knock-on delays will cause traffic peaks which are not yet visible in ETFMS.
  • For airports, the new interface allows to visualise the predicted arrival demand vs. the scheduled demand to identify if/when knock-on delays will shift scheduled peaks with an indication of the predicted arrival delay for each individual flight.
  • For airlines, the new interface allows to visualise the predicted departure delay for each flight using a weighing indicator taking the varying degrees of importance (length of delay, aircraft type, seat capacity) into account. The interface also visualises systemic reactionary delays in the airline network caused by suboptimal flight schedules and planning, i.e. identify lack of schedule resilience.

Third cycle of solutions

Military

This project has developed a tool that uses AI to verify the performance of military aircraft during the approach and landing phase of the flight in order to demonstrate the compliance of military capabilities on board the aircraft, namely GPS Precise Positioning System (GPS PPS) receivers. The tool delivers the necessary performance metrics to support certification-qualification processes for military aircraft, contributing to reducing costs, enhancing airport access and capacity, and reducing environmental impact. Stakeholders involved: UK Ministry of Defence (UK MOD).

The Flexible Use of Airspace (FUA) concept provides the European ATM system with the potential to increase the efficiency of airspace usage through enhanced civil-military cooperation. The Military Aviation Authorities’ representatives consider that, in addition to their efforts to alleviate the impact of airspace segregations on civil traffic, the Aircraft Operators (AO) could improve their taking upon the airspace usage opportunities made available throughout FUA.

Furthermore, latest performance reports show room for improvement to filing/re-filing the most horizontally efficient route plan given the state of airspace availability for the duration of the flight.

Before addressing improvement solutions, it is essential to assess in depth both FUA and non-FUA barriers to AO in better exploiting airspace availability opportunities. To that end, the factors and criteria driving AO flight planning and execution need to be captured and understood. Only the results of such an exercise could drive the identification and development of a quick-win digital solution(s) for improving CURA as sought-after by the EATIN programme.

A qualitative study report will provide conclusions and recommendations to alleviate the identified CURA barriers in areas such as procedures, system support, and civil-military cooperation.

Airports

The project aims to create a tool that automatically assesses the stand capacity available in an airport’s network to improve stakeholders’ common situational awareness to manage situations related to massive diversions. The main challenges this project addresses include:

  • Heavy capacity reduction can cause massive diversions:
    • Flights already airborne to alternate airports.
    • Possible over-deliveries to other airports, if more than two flights expected.
    • Apron congestion and possible safety issues.
  • Coordination process is commonly performed manually and involves:
    • Surrounding airports to provide apron capacity.
    • Different ATC units, to coordinate with pilots and handle diverted traffic accordingly.
    • Pilots and airlines, to decide where to divert and FPL changes if needed.

Stakeholders involved:
SAS, Swiss, Vueling
DSNA, ENAIRE, ENAC, ENAV, UK CAA
CVUT Prague, Euro Jet
AENA, Aeroporti di Roma, SEA Milan

Fourth cycle of solutions

Airspace users

Due to a late arrival of the previous leg a flight can suffer a knock-on delay, and worse, it may be then pushed into a regulation, giving it an additional delay. Using real time data, KORI will calculate the total delay that will affect the flight and explore the delays that would be incurred using alternative routes. In this way, KORI will support the AUs to plan their fleet taking in consideration the network impact on their flights. Participating airlines: Vueling, Swiss and Transavia.

Proposed by Vueling, the project has emerged due to the need of airspace users and airports to have a better predictability of the periods of diversion due to weather events. Nowadays, the information on the periods of diversion is very limited for the airspace users and airports, raising high uncertainty on the operations management throughout the day when the weather gets worse. Stakeholders do not have any tool to know which is the probability for a given flight to be diverted in terms of weather (METAR, TAFOR and/or WIND). It is proposed to develop and validate an AI model to predict the likelihood and trend of diversion, in order to avoid diverted flights (change scheduled flight or delay the flight), avoid undesirable delays for the next flights and avoid unexpected high workload to the Handling Services at another airport. Particpants: Vueling, Transavia, Swiss, Air Europa, Prague airport, Istanbul airport, EBAA.

Airports

An impact analysis performed by EUROCONTROL assessed that the total airport ground delay represents a cost of 660 M€ per annum over the ECAC area. It is nowadays commonly recognised that the ATFM world lacks visibility on what happens between in-block and off-block although ground delay might propagate over the network.

The OpTT (Optimisation of Turnaround Times) project uses Machine Learning to predict turnaround duration at CDM airports, with the aim of:

  • assessing the risk of potential ground delay,
  • improving TOBT predictability
  • validating the methodologies at Prague, Geneva and possibly Swedavia airports, and
  • disseminating the methodology to other European airports when required.

The project was initiated by Prague Airport and EUROCONTROL, with a robust cooperation of ANS CZ, Swiss Air Lines, Geneva and Swedavia Airports. Expected time of delivery after validation: Jan 2023.

Proposed by Istanbul Airport, the objective of this project is to establish a real-time communication of the delay reasons.

If delayed, flights are more likely to have been affected by non-ATFM delays (e.g. knock-on delays, baggage loading, security checks, late fuelling, de-icing, etc.) with little real-time visibility to airport operators, ANSPs and the EUROCONTROL Network Manager on the reasons for these delays. Having a real-time insight into the delay reasons improves the situational awareness across the different actors and allows them to react during the operational day. The real-time sharing of the delay information in a centralised manner would allow for the tactical management of staff and resources adjusted to the actual operational situation. This allows early identification of disruptions at outstations potentially impacting the operation and at the same time centralises the collection of delay reasons to be used for post-ops performance analysis.

The READI project addresses a current need for airport operators and its ecosystem of operational stakeholders: real-time awareness of the delay drivers at the (own) airport and understanding of the delay drivers at outstations (departing airports for inbound flights).
The READI project grouped airports, airlines, ground handlers with IATA endorsing the project and EUROCONTROL acting as “honest data broker” providing the technical platform

There is a lag in the current delay data reporting mechanism with the information becoming available too late to the airport operator to deploy remedial actions to stabilise or improve the local departure punctuality (OTP).

The lack of real-time delay information can be addressed by technology (in the near future) but more importantly it’s the legacy delay code schema that limits the live sharing of delay causes. The legacy delay code schema focus is on the delay reason and stakeholder rather than the turnaround process.
The legacy IATA AHM730 delay code schema was therefore deemed not fit for the live trials which were conducted between May 8-21 2023.The READI project opted to use the new IATA AHM732 delay code schema which has a 3-layer structure:

  • Process – which aircraft turnaround process is affected?
  • Reason – what is the actual reason causing a flight delay?
  • Stakeholder – which stakeholder is responsible? ex. handler, passenger, etc.  

The READI project only used the first Process layer to power a performance dashboard displaying live operational information helping local stakeholders to deploy tactical measures. The second and third layer of the AHM732 was not used in the READI project but in future will allow in-depth post-operational analysis and steer strategic changes.

The results of the limited (both in time and scope) live trials showed great value in a process centric reporting of tactical issues. On the day it is (often) sufficient for operational partners to know which turnaround processes are under pressure with post-ops analysis allowing for more in-depth analysis into the delay reasons and assess which stakeholders caused the delays.

Fifth cycle of solutions

Airlines

The project was proposed by Austrian and ANS CR during the fifth EUROCONTROL Air Transport Innovation Network (EATIN) cycle, in December 2022.

Estimated time of arrival (ETA) is important for all aviation stakeholders because it is an input into various air traffic management (ATM) processes, during several flight phases, starting from the moment the flight plan is submitted up to the moment the flight departs.

A model will be developed to make improved predictions of ETA, the aim of which will be to reduce the average error of current ETA predictions for the different flight phases for a given flight. This model will take the outputs from machine learning models that already exist, which were build and validated within the EATIN programme to address other operational problems. One such example is the FADE model, which is available operationally, and which is used for predicting ATFCM delay of flights. The other models that will be used as inputs come from the KORI and TITOP projects. A new machine learning model may also be developed to improve the prediction of the flight time; its output would be an input into the model for predicting the ETA.

A scoping study reported its findings in May 2023 to stakeholders, and the project is expected to launch in summer 2023.

Stakeholders involved:
Austrian, KLM, Swiss International Air Lines, TAP Air Portugal
ANS CR, NATS
Brussels, Heathrow, Prague airports

In today operations, users are limited to non-dynamic taxi times (Default and Variable for CDM airports; static for non-CDM airports), not considering the weather and works at the airport. In addition, they are generally informed a few hours before departure/arrival about the stand allocation and the runway in use.
This lack of information and dynamicity in the taxi times leads to over-fuel estimation for airlines and inefficient planning of resources (stands allocation, ground-handlers availability, etc.)

The TITOP project was proposed by Swiss and started in January 2023. It emerged based on the need of users to have a more accurate prediction of Taxi Time (TT) that is necessary between landing and stand arrival for an Arrival flight and between stand and take-off for a Departure flight.

This project is a machine learning model trained on historical actual taxi times. It is combined with two other machine learning models for better performance and access to information:

  • Prediction of Runway in Use (PRIU): estimation of the runway in use per flight. It aims at improving the prediction of the runway in use depending on weather information and other factors. The TITOP model considers the runway provided by PRIU as an input to calculate the taxi times.
  • Probability for de-icing: probability that the flight is going to de-ice, depending on weather information and other factors. The TITOP model considers the probability for de-icing to calculate the taxi-time out, when de-icing is done remotely.

This project has been launched in 2023 and has terminated the de-icing live trial. It is in preparation for the final live trial with TITOP and PRIU live information.

Stakeholders involved:
Austrian, Vueling, SunExpress, Swiss
Brussels, Heathrow, IGA Istanbul, Paris Aéroport, Prague airports

Airports

The HAWAII project was proposed by iGA Istanbul Airport and selected in the 5th cycle of the EUROCONTROL Air Transport Innovation Network in December 2022.

The team at the EUROCONTROL Innovation Hub developed a set of 3 machine learning models providing the stakeholders with accurate estimates of the impact of adverse weather conditions on airport capacity (arrival & departure capacity and probability of an ATFM regulation), based on the last weather forecast available (live TAF).

The project caught the attention of:

  • 6 other major airports: Paris (CDG & Orly), London Heathrow, Prague, Amsterdam Schiphol, Brussels and Zurich
  • 4 airlines: Turkish Airlines, Swiss, Transavia and Vueling, and
  • 3 ANSPs: Czech Republic (ANS CR), Finland (FinTraffic) and Switzerland (Skyguide).

They all decided to participate in the trials that kicked off in August 2023 and will last until February 2024 to cover various weather conditions.

By using the models, airports could avoid underestimation of capacity in case of adverse weather, and so force less flights to wait in holding stacks; while airlines could have a better visibility on the impact of weather at the operated airports.

The OpTT2.0 project was proposed by Swiss Airlines during the 5th EUROCONTROL Air Transport Innovation Network (EATIN) cycle and was kicked-off in September 2023.

Inspired by the OpTT1.0 model, currently deployed and used in operations at Prague airport, a new machine learning model has been developed to predict the Target Off-Block Times and turnaround durations across all European CDM airports and for any airline operating from these airports. Predictions are available at early planning phases (e.g., a few days before the day of operations) and receive updates as turnaround operations approach.

The model could be used to increase the stability of TOBT releases and reduce the number of their updates, thereby helping to improve airport and airline operational planning.

A scoping study reported its findings in December 2023 to stakeholders and the model is expected to be tested in May 2024 and in the following months.

Stakeholders involved:

  • Aeroport de Paris, Aeroporti di Roma, Heathrow, Brussels, Prague, Schiphol, Frankfurt, Swedavia, Dusseldorf airports
  • Swiss, Austrian, Vueling, Transavia, SunExpress airlines

Sixth cycle of solutions

Airlines

The Stand Waiting Time project is an extension of the TITOP project. It aims at evaluating the risk of stand waiting time for arrival flights.

Currently the airports and airlines obtain the waiting time information for arrival flights at the last moment, impacting the stand planning and the turnaround process of the flight. Being information of the stand waiting time in advance will allow a smoother stand planning and preparation of the turnaround process with the handling agents.

This project has been launched in 2024 and is in the scoping phase.

Stakeholders involved:

  • Transavia, Vueling
  • Brussels, Paris Aéroport, Prague, Dusseldorf, Swedavia and Fraport airports

Airlines, ground handlers and airport operators may have limited automated information available to predict the passenger connectivity on the day of operation for Customer Care and iOCC to make effective decisions. At present these services often rely on public websites (e.g. Flightradar24) to check the arrival time of third-party (long-haul) flights arrivals to assess whether or not connecting passengers will make their transfer in time.

The objective of the PaxCOIN project is to create a multi-tiered indicator which can be easily shared amongst all operational stakeholders at an airport showing the probability and operational impact of passengers not making their connecting flights. The goal of this indicator is to enhance the travel experience for passengers and to boost the operational effectiveness for airlines, airports and ground handlers.

The aim of the project is to conduct live trials during 2024 and assess whether the PaxCOIN indicator provides an operational and financial benefit. This can be achieved through a reduction of missed passenger connections, an earlier detection when a passenger connection will be missed so mitigation measures can be activated sooner, a reduction of EU261 related costs, an optimisation of the passenger connections within and outside the airline concerned or an optimisation of the park and gate procedures.

Initiated in July 2023 with the active participation of four airlines - Vueling, Turkish Airlines, Netjets, and SunExpress - the WIND project emerged as a response to a critical challenge faced by airlines, which is the absence of an official and robust airports weather database that could help airlines improve scheduling and performance analysis.

WIND was proposed by Vueling during the 6th ideation cycle of EATIN. At its heart is a dynamic PowerBI dashboard enabling airlines to easily access historical METAR information for each airport, offering flexibility in filtering based on date, time, and specific weather parameters. The data can be seamlessly visualised and exported in Excel format for post-analysis.

Complementing METAR data, WIND incorporates additional valuable information, encompassing historical regulations and diversions, along with the percentage of runway utilisation per airport. Currently, the first version of WIND is undergoing validation by both airlines and EUROCONTROL, marking a pivotal phase in ensuring the tool's effectiveness and reliability.

Airports

Advanced curved departure procedures allow the aircraft to make an early turn (as soon as the aircraft crosses the departure end of the runway), which enhances runway throughput and flight efficiency. Under the EATIN CURDEP project, EUROCONTROL and partners are performing validations and data collections to demonstrate that the procedures are safe and feasible from a flyability point of view.

Benefits
The procedures are expected to provide potential fuel savings in the order of at least 30 kg for a typical intra-European flight, when compared to similar procedures using the current ICAO PANS-OPS design criteria. Initial feedback from flight crews involved in the validations is extremely positive.

Our role
Trajectory data and flight crew feedback are collected, operating the procedures in 6 different EASA Level D certified flight crew training simulators (A350, A320, A220, B737, B747-8 and E190) and in various environmental conditions. The curved departure route is coded in the aircraft’s database using the ARINC 424 “Radius-to-Fix (RF)” path terminator, which makes the aircraft behaviour very reliable with extremely predictable ground tracks. By design, the planned turn radius and groundspeed allow control over the aircraft bank angle (limiting the bank angle at low altitudes). The collected data and flight crew feedback will be used to demonstrate that the procedures are safe, reliable and efficient. Live flight trails are currently being discussed as a next step. Results will be presented at the ICAO Instrument Flight Procedures Panel (IFPP) to encourage the design of new instrument flight procedures criteria allowing the implementation of these procedures.

Partners
Swedavia, Groupe ADP, Fraport, NetJets, SunExpress

Seventh cycle of solutions

Airlines

The project will develop a mobile app for pilots to access real-time planning data (on ground), mission planning based on flight plan data, and NM insights, as well as the outputs of mature EATIN solutions (e.g. Curfew prediction, FADE - delay prediction, EDDY - diversion prediction, etc). The project was pitched by easyJet and Austrian Airlines and they will be joined by the EUROCONTROL Network Manager, Aer Lingus, British Airways, NetJets, SunExpress, TUI Group, Vueling, TAP Air Portugal, Transavia, LOT and Swiss International Air Lines. In addition four airports wish to join the scoping phase of the project (Dusseldorf, Belfast, Gatwick and Porto).

The project was pitched by Vueling and aims to deliver more accurate route planning by improving the predictions of the planned SIDs and STARs at the 10 to 3-hour mark prior to take off. Stakeholders who will join the scoping phase are Air France, SunExpress, EUROCONTROL MUAC, Fintraffic ANS and Liverpool airport ATS.

Interested?

Contact us to learn more about the project and the application process or check out this article for the latest info.