Market forces trade-offs impacting European ATM performance

Evaluating trade-offs in air traffic management

VISTA is a SESAR exploratory research project which, from 2016 to 2018, examined the effects of conflicting market forces on European performance in ATM, through the evaluation of impact metrics on four key stakeholders, and the environment. The project comprised a systematic, impact trade-off analysis using classical and complexity metrics, encompassing both fully monetised and quasi-cost impact measures.

The study was commissioned by the Airport Research Unit of EUROCONTROL from the University of Westminster and Innaxis, as part of its contribution to SESAR Operational Focus Area (OFA) 05.01.01 entitled 'Airport Operations Management', in connection with the development of the economics and trade-off aspects of the APOC concept.

Our role

In particular, EUROCONTROL provided data and appropriate expertise, whilst reviewing the deliverables.


This project:

  • provides a flexible, modular ‘what-if’ simulator;
  • demonstrates KPA synergies and conflicts;
  • supports policy evaluation and target-setting;
  • encompasses current, 2035 and 2050 scenarios.


The University of Westminster (UoW), Fundación Instituto de Investación Innaxis (INX),  Icelandair, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Swiss International Air Lines, Belgocontrol/Skeyes.

Background information

What are the main trade-offs in air traffic management between the various key performance areas? The VISTA project examined the effects of market forces (e.g. fuel prices, economic development), technologies and regulatory factors on European performance in ATM, through the evaluation of stakeholder and environmental indicators. Trade-offs were assessed and visualised within and between periods, and between stakeholders.

VISTA modelled current and future timeframes on the basis of the evolution of these effects. The VISTA model is holistic since it covers the three phases of ATM – strategic, pre-tactical and tactical. It captures a typical, busy day of operations.

The model was able to estimate the impact of the above-mentioned factors on these different ATM phases independently and/or as a coupled system, providing a unique assessment of how indicators change in different scenarios and execution phases.

The tool evaluated indicators for airspace users, passengers, airports, air navigation service providers and the environment. New indicators were evaluated, such as door-to-door travel times, tactical costs of uncertainty incurred by airspace users, NOx emissions, delay costs and reactionary effects.

The model can readily be extended to support decision-making and network analysis. Furthermore, the tool may be used to simulate and assess long-term traffic and capacity projections.