Technology

In the SESAR CEO Survey 2016 Air Traffic Management magazine has comprehensively surveyed the senior leadership within the European industry on SESAR deployment and the prospects for success.

The European Commission (EC) will soon turn to formulating the content of the next Common Project (CP). Which SESAR Solution would you most like to see included? Would you, for example, support an early shift to virtual towers and centres as an approach to harmonisation and eventually consolidation?

Maurice Georges, DSNA I see some promising features which should be integrated in the next CP. Regarding air traffic services: ‘AMAN/DMAN integration including multiple airport’ to better coordinate arrival and departure traffic flow in complex area such as Paris, advanced ‘trajectory-based tools’ for improving the productivity of the controller, and also ‘enhanced safety nets’ through the use of aircraft derived data.

Regarding airport operations: ‘collaborative airport’ will be needed to improve the interface between landside and ATM to enable more robust management of available capacity especially in adverse or exceptional conditions. ‘Integrated surface management’ to provide traffic information to the vehicles and to guide the crews using airfield ground lighting will be essential to improve traffic flow and ensure better predictability.

In the field of infrastructure I would expect the CP to call for some rationalisation of CNS in order to benefit from better performance at lower cost and the development of a secure capability to exchange and share business trajectory information between all stakeholders including the aircraft.

On core ATM systems, the main challenge is to achieve a profound operational interoperability between systems whoever is the technology supplier, so that a seamless single sky turns actually into a reality. The SDM should develop specific incentives in that direction.

Read the SESAR CEO Survey 2016

Tanel Rautits, EANS Virtual towers and centres are one of the most developed SESAR Solutions and this technology can, of course, be included into the next CP.

Ángel Luis Arias Serrano, ENAIRE In relation to SESAR solutions, the 2015 European ATM Master Plan Edition identifies the New Essential Operational Changes (NEOC) for each of the four key features (12 in total), defined as those beyond the Pilot Common Project (PCP). Certainly, these NEOC are the initial candidates to build the next CP.

The preliminary cost benefit analysis results included in the 2015 European ATM Master Plan show that between 2015-2035, the roll out of the NEOC would generate a NPV amounting to €3.1 billion. This results in an 11-year payback period (2026) based on the current deployment assumptions associated with the NEOC. It has to be highlighted, however, that the cost benefit analysis is based on high level deployment assumptions, and scope for further optimisation of the deployment timing should be taken into account.

From a ANSP perspective, the potential cost reduction shown in the business view of the document seems to be too ambitious for those ANSPs who have already introduced relevant functionalities and/or performed consolidation of area control centres.

Furthermore, whether a NEOC contributes significantly to network performance often depends on local conditions. Therefore, performance expectations and gains as described in the Master Plan cannot be applied equally to each and every stakeholder and location.

Finally and most important, the majority of the proposed NEOC are not yet mature enough and are still subject to validation and consequently potential revision during the R&D phase. Hence there is a risk that the R&D activities could modify the current proposed NEOC list.

Kornél Szepessy, HungaroControl Virtualisation could indeed be a powerful driver of change in ATM, as it already has been in several other industries. I would not expect however, that the virtual centre concept would be mature enough to be part of the next CP regulation. In the context of towers, the remote tower for multiple airports solution is much more important than virtualisation, and also more mature.

The importance of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) cannot be over-emphasised though, a concept which would provide European ATM with the much needed flexibility of all main systems. The introduction of SOA in the next CP would therefore be more than welcome.

In general with regard to formulating the next CP I would rather propose focussing on the more detailed definition of current common projects defined in the Deployment Programme. I think the description of some families is not precise enough and some efforts are needed for their widespread awareness, especially concerning the required system support.

Eamonn Brennan, IAA We would like to see the remote tower concept included in the next CP. This technology will facilitate the provision of a high quality ATM service at airfields which have insufficient traffic to warrant a full ATM service at an affordable price.

We also see significant value in the deployment of space-based ADS-B surveillance services. The Aireon system will be a game-changer in the provision of high quality global surveillance services when it comes on line in early 2018. Aireon will provide real time surveillance across remote and difficult terrain where today there is none. It will also offer a value-for-money alternative to traditional terrestrial platforms and will facilitate contingency surveillance cover both within States and on a third party basis.

We believe that greater levels of harmonisation will lead to the increased efficiency of the European ATM network but we would caution against the over-consolidation of ATM service provision in Europe. If there are fewer systems and fewer service providers, greater volumes of European airspace will potentially be at risk from a single system or software failure and/or from industrial action at one of the larger consolidated service providers.

Olle Sundin, LFV Digitalisation is the next major transformation of ATM. Up until now we have only digitised current operations BUT remote towers and virtual centres represent the start of this business transformation. My organisation is working actively on a digital strategy for the future.

Martin Rolfe, NATS We acknowledge that there are considerable social and employment impacts of a shift to virtual towers and centres which would need to be factored in and probably rule out an early shift.

There are other priorities we believe could be accelerated such as interoperability and air-ground integration which help to ensure the seamless flow of aircraft through European airspace and ensure that the technology on board the aircraft is actively used as part of optimising aircraft trajectories within the network.

Magda Jaworska, PANSA The Solutions that would be most welcome by ANSPs, are those which would allow for relatively painless cost reductions and capacity increases. Virtual towers might well belong to this group, if operational standards and certificates are developed at the same pace.

The point with virtual towers is in their end-to-end applications. With virtual centres we would have to intervene deeper into inter-State relations. My impression is that this may be far more difficult for a State to agree on any reductions within its own ANSP core infrastructure, as this infrastructure could well become part of its air defences in times of crisis.

Perhaps we could start encouraging States to reconsider stronger consolidation of area control centres (ACC) within each State? From the operational viewpoint the most welcome ACC solutions would be those that automate trajectory calculation and traffic transfer between centres.

Cârnu Fănică, ROMATSA The remote and virtual tower concept is becoming a reality, therefore it should be included in the next CP.

Franc Županič, Slovenia Control Talking about harmonisation is something completely different than talking about consolidation. Virtual centres are perceived as the opposite to consolidated centres, while having the need for highly sophisticated system solutions in mind. I am convinced, that co-operation in future system architecture development among ANSPs will be one of the important milestones. Focusing on consolidation would be a wrong message coming out of SESAR and the CPs.

Jan Klas, ANS CR This question really reflects one of our main concerns and we are currently discussing internally which SESAR Solutions would most likely be included in the next CP regulation.

Virtual or, let’s say, remote towers is one of the topics we would like to see on the list. However, the question is this: which airports should be selected for such radical change? Should they be smaller ones where the concept of remote towers is more feasible to implement and its deployment would allow ANSPs a more efficient use of resources, which would have positive impact on costs?

Or should this concept be more focused on medium-sized and larger airports where more benefits could be possible, but where the implementation is probably much more difficult to achieve?

Anders Kirsebom, Avinor Avinor ANS has already decided on implementing the Remote Virtual Tower concept at 15 out of 46 Avinor-owned airports, with an option of another 21 units. We have signed a contract with Kongsberg Defense Group after a standard procurement process, and the value of the contract is the highest in the world so far. We are convinced that the Remote Virtual Tower concept is the future, and I am proud to see our company being a pioneer in this respect!

Concerning consolidating centres, we have done that by establishing one centre, but the services are provided from three production units. So far we think this has been a success, and we have already made considerable financial savings introducing this concept.

So coming back to your question, we are already implementing the tasks mentioned, so having these within the next CP would bring no added value to our organisation.

Johan Decuyper, Belgocontrol The next set of CPs will be based on the ATM Master Plan. We would like to see ATM functionalities which are fully mature and deliver highest performance benefits. Virtual towers or the Virtual Centre concept are long-term possibilities but the maturity and agreement on all underlying operational, technical and legal enablers can today still be questioned.

We should also realise that some lessons were learned from the first PCP IR. Some gaps in the regulation (e.g. scope of airport) still need to be corrected as a matter of priority.

Georgi Peev, BULATSA The SESAR Solutions that are most likely to be included in the next CP should depend on the results of SESAR 1 and SESAR 2020. Future projects should be carefully identified with the involvement of all stakeholders so as to ensure their sustainability, safety and efficiency. Remote tower and other virtual services are rapidly entering and they do have potential for the future. I believe operational stakeholders are now at the stage of evaluating which solutions are best suited to their environments.

Dragan Bilać, Croatia Control There are still lot of projects to be finished before we achieve the PCP objectives. We would not support an early shift to virtual towers and centres. All relevant aspects should be studied before that, including the overall impact on safety, security and cost, social impact and on the economies of States.

However, we all agree that the industry needs to continue in the optimisation of costs, the improvement of safety and quality of services and other developments steered by the SES framework.

Klaus-Dieter Scheurle, DFS SESAR Solutions which need a synchronised and coordinated deployment are solutions such as Advanced Required Navigation Procedures, Arrival Manager (AMAN) integration including multiple airports, trajectory-based tools enabling optimised and more direct flights, GBAS technology to enable optimised precision approaches to airports located in densely populated areas, rationalisation of communication, navigation and surveillance infrastructure in an effort to increase performance, robustness and cost-effectiveness.

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